SYN News at 4: 24 June 2013

ALEX: Coming up in the next fifteen minutes:

  • ALEX: Melbourne draped in early morning fog as temperatures reach record low
  • CHRISTINE: Daredevil becomes the first man to walk across the grand canyon on a tightrope
  • ALEX: South African President calls for prayers as Nelson Mandela’s condition continues to deteriorate.
  • CHRISTINE: And Australian cricket coach sacked and replaced two weeks out from the Ashes

 Good afternoon, I’m CHRISTINE LI. ALEX: And I’m ALEX DARLING. Welcome to SYN News at 4. The top story on SYN this afternoon, Myki is now being extended to V/Line trains.  The rollout began in Seymour today, but opinion is divided on whether regional commuters will benefit from the system. Victorian Greens Leader GREG BARBER says Myki is a “dehumanised system” which will disadvantage seniors and concession card holders, but ALAN FEDDA, from Public Transport Victoria, says V/Line customers will be better off under Myki. SYN News spoke to regular V/Line user GABBY GONZALEZ-FORWARD, who says Myki will be a more convenient system. “Travelling from Melbourne and to the V/Line services is very hectic, because you go from your Myki at the station, to going to Southern Cross station to buy a paper ticket, and you weren’t allowed to use that paper ticket at the other end of your journey. For me, just being able to touch on and get on the train, rather than having to buy a paper ticket and possibly lose a paper ticket, will be very good for me.” Myki will be introduced in Gippsland and Bendigo next month.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          CHRISTINE: Melbourne awoke to heavy fog this morning, following icy temperatures as low as 2.1 degrees overnight. Many skyscrapers in the CBD were blanketed by mist this morning, and the fog also led to flight cancellations and delays of up to 3 hours at Melbourne Airport. VicRoads also warned drivers to exercise more caution on the freeways. The fog follows Melbourne’s fifth consecutive night of minimum temperatures below 3.2 degrees, the city’s coldest period in over 30 years coming only months after Melbourne’s longest hot spell of 9 consecutive days over 32 degrees in March. And the shiver-inducing cold is only set to continue: we’ll have more weather for you at the end of the bulletin.ALEX: The Australian Electoral Commission is using Facebook to encourage young Australians to enrol to vote in time for the federal election in September. Nearly half a million people aged eighteen to twenty-four are not registered on the electoral roll. The Electoral Commission has today launched an online enrolment system, and an enrolment app on Facebook. RAY RIOTICA from the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition says more education about citizenship and the political system would help young people become more engaged with politics. “It’s a great opportunity for young people to get to know the political system better.” And you can hear more of that interview on Panorama after 4.30. CHRISTINE: The U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report has pointed the finger at government officials in Papua New Guinea, leaving no doubt that those working in bureaucracy are indirectly involved in the human trafficking industry. Human trafficking crimes are endemic in Papua New Guinea, with foreign victims, many of them women, often being smuggled over the border from Malaysia, Thailand, China, Philippines by crime rings and foreign companies. According to the report, victims are usually taken to logging or mining camps, fisheries and entertainment sites. This often translates into years of harsh manual labour, forced prostitution and domestic servitude. The report outlines the complicity of Papua New Guinean officials either by accepting bribes at the entry point, standing by amidst local accounts of exploitation, or in some cases, trading victims for political votes. US Secretary of State JOHN KERRY has expressed his hope for American leadership in the fight against human traffickers. “When we help countries to prosecute traffickers, we are strengthening rule of law. When we bring victims out of exploitation, we are helping to create more stable and productive communities.”ALEX: Daredevil NIK WALLENDA has become the first person ever to walk across the Grand Canyon in America on a tightrope. The seventh generation member of the Flying Wallenda’s circus family made his record-breaking journey 450 metres above the canyon floor, without a harness and while being broadcast live on the US’s Discovery Channel. The stunt claimed the life of WALLENDA’S great grandfather in 1973, and those there to witness the crossing had their heart in their mouths when he went onto the wire on two occasions. But after 22 minutes, WALLENDA made it to the other side and was in the arms of his relieved family.CHRISTINE: The Department of Defence has released the name of the soldier killed in Afghanistan on Saturday. CORPORAL CAMERON STEWART BAIRD died while fighting insurgents in southern Afghanistan. He was completing his fifth tour of Afghanistan, and had previously served in Iraq and East Timor.ALEX: Trade unions have called on Holden to disclose its financial records and executive salaries, after the car manufacturer announced it would have to cut costs and make up to 400 redundancies at its Elizabeth plant in Adelaide. The Federation of Vehicle Industry Unions has drafted a seven-point plan to be delivered to Holden chief MIKE DEVEREUX (Dev-er-oo).  Unions spokesman JOHN CAMILLO has condemned the announcement, saying the justification given for cost savings are ‘vague at best’. “The main thing for these workers right now is job security. They’re very concerned whether they’re going to be around next week, next month, next year.” The unions want full access to Holden’s books, and further analysis of Holden’s cost structure by an independent business expert if necessary. CHRISTINE: Key Labor backbencher and Kevin Rudd supporter STEPHEN JONES has called for a ballot to resolve the ongoing leadership controversy engulfing the Party. On the third year anniversary of JULIA GILLARD’S prime ministership, the New South Wales MP told News Limited the issue had to be resolved – preferably by the end of the week. The renewed leadership speculation comes as the latest newspoll shows Labor’s primary vote is below 30%.  But MS GILLARD is holding firm to her belief she has the support of the Labor caucus. “This issue was settled in March, so that’s the end of it … Can I say to everybody here, the focus for me this week is on our schools reforms which are in the Senate. What I want to achieve at the end of this week is better schools for our nation, which means a better future for our nation.” The leadership issue looks set to overshadow yet another of the government’s major policy initiatives: The Gonski education reforms. MS GILLARD has previously set this Sunday, June 30th as the deadline for the state governments of Australia to sign up to the plan.Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory are all yet to sign up.ALEX: The Ararat Council in Western Victoria is seeking to build Australia’s first purpose-built prison for the elderly. Ararat Council chief executive ANDREW EVANS says this would fill a gap in the jail system for the needs of elderly inmates over the age of 65. MR EVANS says that a geriatric prison will provide specialised healthcare, be especially designed for wheelchairs, roll-in showers and other facilities. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the number of Victorian prisoners over the age of 65 has increased from 60 to 140 in the past thirteen years. The plan, which is still under consideration from the State Government, would bring an estimated 200 jobs to Ararat. ALEX: You are listening to SYN News. News time, eight past four. CHRISTINE: Heading overseas now:Former South African President NELSON MANDELA is in a critical condition, two weeks after he was admitted to hospital with a lung infection. Current President JACOB ZUMA visited Mr Mandela over the weekend, and says his condition has deteriorated over the past twenty-four hours. MR MANDELA, now aged 94, became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, and MR ZUMA has called for people all over the world to pray for him and his family.ALEX: The US Department of Justice has expressed its disappointment in Hong Kong for failing to arrest whistleblower EDWARD SNOWDEN, who flew out of the country yesterday. A US official said Hong Kong’s decision not to intervene was “particularly troubling”, as Hong Kong didn’t raise any questions about America’s request that Snowden be arrested for a full week. MR SNOWDEN recently shed light on the National Security Agency’s classified telephone and internet activity monitoring programs, which the NSA responded to by requesting a criminal investigation into his activities. Victorian Spokesperson for the Wikileaks Party, SAM CASTRO, is critical of Snowden’s treatment and the media’s coverage of issues relating to transparency. “The mainstream media has also dropped the ball on this, and its really up to the citizenry to understand that these civil issues in the post 9/11 era have consistently stripped away our capacity of freedom of speech and free press and civil liberty rights, and this is very dangerous for the concept of democracy in Western culture.” SNOWDEN boarded a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow yesterday, with the aid of Wikileaks, thwarting American attempts to extradite him. He has since requested asylum in Ecuador, mirroring the actions of Wikileaks founder JULIAN ASSANGE. And stay tuned to SYN for BROEDE CARMODY’s report on Wikileaks, including more of that interview with SAM CASTRO, on Panorama after 4.30.CHRISTINE: A 22 year old wedding singer from a Gaza refugee camp has united Palestinians by winning reality TV show Arab Idol. Palestinians filled the streets in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank to celebrate MOHAMMED ASSAF’s victory. Mr ASSAF was in tears as he thanked the Palestinian people. He will now become the UN’s first Palestinian Goodwill Ambassador.ALEX: Tertiary student poverty in Australia’s capital city has made an appearance in a new report from Anglicare ACT. The survey takes responses from 200 students aged 18 to 25 years at Australian National University, the University of Canberra, Australian Catholic University and the Canberra Institute of Technology. 25% of students surveyed had experienced a period of homelessness at some point. 28% were unable to pay for at least one basic need including food, while 16% unable to afford to eat properly on ongoing basis. Reasons given by author of the report JEREMY HALCROW were the high student population, young and costly public housing market and poor public transport system. Director of Anglicare SUSAN HELYAR says that the state government had to do more to work with the private rental market and provide affordable accommodation alternatives for students.CHRISTINE: Heading to Queensland now, and the State Minister for local government has endorsed a radical plan to help councils fight teenage graffiti vandals.  DAVID CRIS-A-FULLI says the proposed amendments t would give local councils the power to order youth graffiti offenders to remove their mess, having yesterday committed $50,000 to a funding pool to encourage local councils to participate in the crackdown program.  MR CRIS-A-FULLI told the Courier Mail that “These people are deadset cretins, and the only way to send a message is to send them out to clean up after themselves.”ALEX: And a rare Apple 1 computer is going up for grabs at auction house CHRISTIE’S for a mean 300,000 US dollars as the starting price. Pre-sale estimates round out at about 500,000 US dollars. The Apple 1 model first retailed in 1977, as one of 200 computers made and sold by co-founders STEVE JOBS and STEVE WOZNIAK. Only 30 to 50 are thought to still be around today. Owner TED PERRY, a retired psychologist, acquired the secondhand Apple 1 in 1980 in a swap with some of his own computer equipment. There has been a recorded spike in sales of Vintage Apple products in recent years, which could be a result of STEVE JOBS’ death in late 2011.CHRISTINE: And now here’s EDDIE WILLIAMS with sport.EDDIE: Thanks CHRISTINE. National Cricket Coach MICKEY ARTHUR has been sacked by Cricket Australia, to be replaced by DARREN LEHMANN. Barely two weeks before Australia’s Ashes campaign in England, Cricket’s governing body today confirmed the axing of Arthur two years before his contract was set to expire. New coach LEHMANN is already in England coaching Australia A.   ARTHUR’S sacking is the latest drama in a turbulent year for the national team, most recently punctuated by their winless Champions trophy campaign, a twitter rant, and the suspension of opener DAVID WARNER.The Essendon football club could still be suspended before the finals with the AFL-ASADA drugs inquiry set to wrap up in the last rounds of the season. AFL deputy chief executive GILLON MCLACHLAN told Channel 7 he expects the inquiry into the club’s supplement program to be completed at the end of home-and-away season in August. This means Essendon players could face a tribunal hearing just before or during the finals, and comes just months after AFL CEO ANDREW DEMETRIOU said he was confident Essendon would play to the end of the year.  In NRL, Melbourne Storm skipper CAMERON SMITH has pleaded with fellow players to shake off their “bad boy” image and become role models for the good of the game.   SMITH told the Herald Sun the incidents involving NRL players of the past month have saddened him, given players are in a position where people look up to them as role models.   To NASCAR and Australian Marcus Ambrose has finished in seventh position at Sonoma Raceway after starting at second of the grid, giving way for Martin Truex Jr to claim his first win in 218 races.  The Australian struggled for most of the race buried in the pack on pit strategy. It was Ambrose’s best performance of the year.   The former manager of an English League One soccer club was given a rude shock yesterday, after finding out on live TV he had been sacked. Former Uruguayan international soccer player gus poyet was questioned about his sacking as manager of Brighton on BBC’s match of the day. But though the club had released a statement that day, Poyet maintained he knew nothing about the announcement, saying he had had no communication from the club regarding his sacking. He says he will appeal the decision. And now back to ALEX with the weather.ALEX: Thanks EDDIETo the weather, Right now in the city, it’s 10 degrees. We’re headed for an overnight low of 6 degrees, before a mostly sunny day tomorrow, with 30% chance of rain and a top of 16 degrees. CHRISTINE: For those on public transport, Citybound trains on the Frankston line may be delayed by up to 5 minutes due to a track fault in the Patterson area. Citybound services my depart from altered platforms between Moorabbin and Caufield.ALEX: To recap our top stories this afternoon:

  • Myki ticketing system begins rollout to regional Victoria
  • CHRISTINE: US criticises Hong Kong for letting whistleblower Edward Snowden go
  • ALEX: A US report accuses Papua New Guinea officials for involvement in human trafficking
  • CHRISTINE: And the electoral commission now using facebook to encourage young people to enrol for this years federal election

ALEX: That’s all for our bulletin this afternoon. But when we’re off air, you can keep up with the news by following us on twitter at News SYN. Panorama’s coming up at 4.30 and we’ll be back with an update at 5pm. 

June 24th 2013
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