National: Air Pollution Alert Issued for Sydney as Ozone Levels Rise

An air pollution alert has been issued for Sydney residents as ozone levels continue to rise beyond government standards.

New South Wales Health said the ozone excess, which causes “poor” air quality on Tuesday, could affect people with respiratory conditions.

Ozone is a pungent gas resulting from chemical reactions between atmospheric gases and nitrogen oxides from car-vehicle exhausts, which can cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation when inhaled. Hot weathers could exacerbate ozone pollution levels, a statement by NSW Health said.

Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health said parents are advised to keep watch on their children when ozone levels are high.

“Ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors, so parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside as they are more susceptible to the effects of ozone pollution,” said Scalley.

Scalley reminded that people should remain alert to the link between high temperatures and ozone pollution.

 

For more information on local air quality forecast and hourly air quality updates, visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/index.htm

 

For more information about air pollution and health, visit the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/default.aspx​

Finance: What’s Up With The Australian Housing Market?

According to Louis Christopher of SQM Research, on record the Australian housing market has hit its second most overvalued point, potentially drawing closer towards “a dangerous national housing bubble”.

He has stated that “the national property market was overvalued by 22 per cent, which was only lower than 2003 when it hit 25 per cent” and was driven specifically by Sydney and Melbourne, both capital cities having already entered that bubble.

Christopher has announced that “The current tempo has picked up particularly in Sydney. Melbourne has had about 15 per cent per annum price gains, I know that is a little bit higher at what the official numbers suggest but it is our view that, that is what the market has done. And our expectation is that the current trends will continue well into next year.’’

Melbourne had hit its highest overvaluation level of 40 per cent and Sydney was at its second highest level of overvaluation at 40 per cent as well.

Mr Christopher also warned in his latest report that “if the Reserve Bank of Australia didn’t lift interest rates or encourage the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to clamp down on home lending, the national market could enter bubble territory.”

Hobart values would increase between 7 per cent and 12 per cent, Brisbane between 3 per cent and 7 per cent, Adelaide between 2 per cent and 4 per cent, and Canberra between 3 per cent and 7 per cent.

Fortunately, the report has predicted values in Perth would drop between 8 per cent and 4 per cent and drop in Darwin between 9 per cent and 5 per cent.

This news article was completely sourced by News.com.au

National: Trump’s Presidency Might Disrupt Australia-US Refugee Resettlement Deal

The election of Donald Trump into US presidency could overturn the Australia-US refugee resettlement deal, experts say.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that refugees on Nauru and Manus Island would be relocated to the US through a one-off deal.

Under the deal, refugees who do not accept resettlement to the US would be sent to Nauru and provided a 20-year visa to stay or return to their origin country.

However, concerns arise that Trump might not keep the agreement when he takes office in January.

“In all likelihood, the only way it’s going to happen is if the refugees are transferred to the US before inauguration day [January 20],” Niels Frenzen, immigration clinic director at the University of Southern California school of law told Radio National.

“If the US has not already begun its own vetting or so-called background checks until now, if you look at the time the US has taken to vet Syrian refugees … it’s unlikely that that could be accomplished in a few months.”

Mark Krikorian, the executive director at the Centre for Immigration Studies said Trump, whose policies contradicts the agreement, might not keep the deal.

“We [America] have a good relationship with Australia — one of our closest allies in the world,” Krikorian said.

“If this were a unique situation that there was no way for Australia to deal with, I could see extending them a helping hand, but this is just a matter of shipping these illegal immigrants to the United States.”

Both Krikorian and Frenzen suggest that the resettlement could be finished before January 20 under several conditions.

Frenzen said refugees could be settled before Trump’s inauguration if vetting had been “ongoing” and the US had been negotiating with Australia since January.

Krikorian also suggested that President Barack Obama might accelerate the processing period, as he had previously sped up the assessment of Syrian refugees from 18-24 months to only three months.

“It’s entirely possible the administration will rush the admission of the illegal immigrants you all have offshore in order to get them in under the wire before January 20 when Trump becomes president,” said Krikorian.

National: Turnbull Says Cabinet May Consider Changes to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 18C

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated that his cabinet is considering an inquiry into freedom of speech in relation to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, a backflip from his August statement that the Government had “much more pressing priorities”.

Section 18C makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” people based on their race or ethnicity.

Turnbull said the Coalition conservatives’ calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the issue had “considerable merit”.

“There is a view that the bar that is set is too low, in other words, that proscribing conduct which insults and offends is too much a restriction on free speech,” Turnbull told ABC Radio on Monday.

Turnbull also called for the Human Rights Commission to “urgently review” the way it handles section 18C complaints after a Brisbane judge dismissed a case against three Queensland students.

The students were accused of social media vilification of an Indigenous officer on campus.

“What it shows is that the Human Rights Commission must urgently review the way in which it manages these cases,” he said.

“To have a case like that – which will have involved the expenditure of considerable Commonwealth money, taxpayers’ money, considerable money on behalf of the students, imposed enormous stress on them – and have it chucked out, struck out as having no reasonable prospects of success, what the court was saying, what the judge was saying to the Human Rights Commission is, ‘You’ve been wasting the court’s time. You’ve been wasting government money.'”

A number of Coalition politicians have voiced their support for an inquiry.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi tweeted, “It’s about time, but the real question is why it has taken so long? The abuse of 18C has been evident for years.”

Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie said while the Government would like to protect minorities, it also sought to defend “one of the most important elements of democracy, which is free speech”.

The opposition has criticised Turnbull’s backflip. “The Prime Minister is willing to trade race hate protections to protect himself from his backbench,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

National: One Nation Senator Denies Climate Change is Happening

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has claimed that the CSIRO’s climate change science had no “empirical proof”.

In his Monday press conference, Roberts released his 42-page report titled “On Climate, CSIRO Lacks Empirical Proof”, in which he wrote that the agency “relies on unscientific Australian and overseas manipulations of data that have fabricated warming temperatures”.

Roberts also published his letter to Dr Larry Marshall of the CSIRO, saying that climate policies is detrimental to “key industries” and people’s job security.

The report also criticised former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax policy and claimed that Great Barrier Reef is not “dying”.

“We have had complete failure of science in policies that has cost Australian taxpayers and citizens and Queensland residents billions of dollars and has cost lives,” said Roberts in the press conference.

Roberts said the CSIRO and weather bureau should face an independent inquiry over the lack of “empirical evidence” that human activity affects climate.

The CSIRO maintained its position in a statement: “CSIRO stands behind its peer-reviewed science on environment, climate and climate change.”

National: Barnaby Joyce Accuses ALP of Communism

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has accused the Labor party of “communism” in a speech at the National Farmers’ Federation Congress in Canberra.

Joyce said foreign ownership was a threat to patriotism, and that Labor’s policies, including native vegetation management, would result in “dispossession” and therefore communism.

“I thought about how Labor dispossess people of their private assets with tree-clearing guidelines – ‘vegetation management’ as it’s euphemistically called,” Joyce said.

“This essentially took away ownership from private individuals and gave it to the community. The dispossession of the individual for the community benefit, without the community paying for it.

“While I was marking my 184th lamb that I’d just picked up, I thought, ‘there’s a word for this — it’s called communism’.”

Joyce closed his speech by repeating his statement on opposing foreign ownership of agricultural land. “It’s the whole essence of patriotism, the love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country,” Joyce said.

“The love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country. I may like your car but I love mine. Likewise, I find your house very interesting but I want to go home to mine … And believe me, there’s one thing that people are not keen to do and that is die for a rented country.”

When asked whether his speech was too harsh given the presence of Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye in the congress, Joyce told ABC, “China more than anybody is moving towards a market economy. Ever since (former leader) Deng Xiaoping decided that was the direction they should go, they’ve been exceptionally good at it and private ownership fundamentally underpins your attachment to an asset.

“I love the fact that if my daughters want to, they can go on to the farm that I bought – that’s my aspiration, that’s what makes Australia a great place, and it does build up this idea of patriotism – the love of the earth that you stand on because your indelible connection to it and I’m sure a lot of indigenous Australians would agree with me as well.”

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon said Joyce’s populist statement on foreign ownership “is a zero sum game”.

“Overcoming those challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities will take new thinking, hard work and co-operation,” Fitzgibbon said.

“And it will require all of us to spend more time talking in positive rather than in negative tones.”

National: Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson Resigns Amid Conflict with George Brandis

Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson has resigned after an open conflict with Attorney-General George Brandis, following the latter’s decision to restrict parliament members’ access to the former’s legal advice.

As Junkee’s Osman Faruqi explained, Brandis’s legally-binding decision in May to restrict access meant that “no minister, including the Prime Minister, could seek legal advice [from Gleeson] without going through Brandis”.

Gleeson said he had been left out of the discussions surrounding public matters such as anti-terror legislation and same-sex marriage. Brandis has been reported seeking advice on same-sex marriage from former Solicitor-General David Bennett after rejecting Gleeson’s advice.

The outgoing chief legal officer also said his resignation does not indicate a backtrack from “any position I have taken in relation to matters of controversy between us”.

“It is not Mr Gleeson who should have resigned today – it is Senator Brandis,” Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said. “The Commonwealth has lost from its service a great legal mind and one of the most experienced constitutional lawyers in this country as its most senior legal adviser.”

“It’s imperative that we have somebody of absolute integrity [for the Solicitor-General role], it’s imperative that we have somebody who is not afraid to give advice which will be potentially distasteful to the government of the day,” Law Council of Australia president, Stuart Clark said.

“We had that person in Justin Gleeson.”

National: NSW Premier Mike Baird Backflips on Greyhounds Racing Ban

Five greyhounds have been killed since last week, when NSW Premier Mike Baird backtracked on his decision to ban the racing.

Baird and deputy premier Troy Grant announced that a panel will report to the state government about reforming the sport and “providing the most stringent, safest racing environment to eliminate avoidable injury”.

Baird said that he and his government were “wrong” about the decision to close down the industry after three months stating that the ban was “the right thing to do”.

“I got it wrong, we got it wrong, the cabinet got it wrong and the government got it wrong,” Baird said.

Baird said his advisor on the industry closure, Dr John Keniry had said that “there is now a deep appetite for change, for reform in the industry… [the industry is] desperate to change.”

The decision to ban greyhound racing from July 1, 2017 was a result of special inquiry headed by Michael McHugh, which found that up to 68,000 greyhounds had been euthanised in the past 12 years due to slowness and incapability to continue competing.

Brenton Scott, chief executive of the NSW Greyhound Industry Racing Alliance said cases of track euthanasia “represents an extremely small 0.13 per cent of runner. However, the industry accepts that every possible step must be taken to avoid any track euthanasia going forward.”

Fairfax’s Sean Nicholls said the reversal is likely caused by oppositional media and industry campaign, as well as predictions that the Liberal Party might lose the November 12 Orange by-election.

The Changing Nature of Trust: Australian Jobs That Need Security Checks

In Australia, the government has now increased a number of safety measures towards jobs that are considered a ‘high security’ risk. Jobs such as aged care services and disability care services now require to obtain a mandatory certificate.

Staff working in aged care homes and disability care centres who have supervised or unsupervised access to care recipients must obtain a police check. All volunteers that are likely to have unsupervised access to care recipients must also obtain a police check.

National criminal history record checks (also known as police checks) provides evidence that the employee has not committed any crimes, in an attempts to lower the risks of any thefts or assaults that may occur in the workplace.

Criminal records may include arrest, conviction, and possibly criminal proceedings.

National: Pleas To Block Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite

The plebiscite on same-sex marriage in the parliament might be cancelled, as the Australian Labor party is expected to reject the enabling bill.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten is set to recommend rejecting the bill to Labor caucus and finalise the party’s position on October 10.

The Greens and Nick Xenophon team have promised to block the legislation. “We will be voting against the marriage equality plebiscite, no matter what form it takes, because of the harm that it can potentially do to same-sex attracted and gender diverse Australian,” Greens senator Janet Rice said in a Melbourne conference.

“The best way to achieve marriage equality, the quickest way, the way it should be done is to have a free vote in the parliament and we want to see that free vote to be brought upon as soon as possible.”

If the parliament passes the legislation, the plebiscite would take place on February 11, 2017, with a taxpayer funding of $15 million allocated to “yes” and “no” campaign committees.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that Labor’s rejection of the plebiscite could result in delays in same-sex marriage legalisation. “If the Labor Party wants to frustrate that, well, all that will mean is that the resolution of the same-sex marriage issue will be postponed potentially for a very long time,” Turnbull told the Financial Review.

Same-sex marriage advocates have said that the legislation is not the best way to legalise same-sex marriage. “This public funding provisions would allow taxpayers funds to be used to attack other Australians with fear campaigns, and is totally unnecessary for achieve a reform that the parliament could deliver now,” Australian Marriage Equality Chair, Alex Greenwich said.

“Earlier [in August] the largest LGBTI community survey of its kind ever conducted found the LGBTI community is united against a plebiscite with opposition running at 85 per cent,” just.equal spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh told Star Observer.

“A key concern of LGBTI Australians is that a plebiscite will be a platform for hate and that it will not actually lead directly to marriage equality.

“I call on Labor and crossbench senators to follow the Greens’ lead so that a plebiscite is blocked and we can have a free vote in Parliament instead.”