SYN News at 4:1 July 2013

CHARLIE: Coming up over the next fifteen minutes:

  • Kevin Rudd unveils a new-look cabinet
  • CHRISTINE: Disability Care launches in Newcastle
  • CHARLIE: Firefighters march on State Parliament
  • CHRISTINE: And Cadel Evans makes a good start to the Tour de France

 Good afternoon, I’m CHRISTINE LI. CHARLIE: And I’m CHARLIE BARHAM. Welcome to SYN News at 4. The top story on SYN today, Simon Crean has become the latest labor MP to announce his retirement from politics, as the Prime Minister unveiled his new cabinet today. MR CREAN, a former Labor leader, spoke emotionally of his 23-year tenure in politics and his 40-year involvement with the labour movement. The senior party figure lost a ballot for the role of deputy Prime Minister to ANTHONY ALBANESE last Wednesday, and was the instigator of a failed Labor leadership challenge in March. But MR CREAN today alluded to the need for unity in the ALP. “Understand the great legacy and great achievements that Labor governments and the labour movement have achieved, and have achieved their best ones when they’ve worked together.”  MR CREAN joins a host of other high-profile ministers including STEPHEN CONROY, CRAIG EMERSON and PETER GARRETT, who are quitting politics at the next election. This exodus gave PM KEVIN RUDD the task of forming a new cabinet, which was sworn in today. Notable changes include MR ALBANESE assuming the role of communications minister, and BILL SHORTEN adding education alongside his industrial relations portfolio.  KIM CARR is the new minister for Higher education, while KATE ELLIS is again the minister for Youth, a position she first held after the 2007 election.    PRIME MINISTER RUDD says he’s looking forward to working with his new cabinet colleagues. “This is a strong team. I’m proud to lead this team… I’m delighted that in this cabinet of ours, we’ll have the largest number of women of any cabinet in Australia’s history… It will be a great contribution to the cause of women, as well as a great contribution to the cause of government in Australia.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   CHRISTINE: Disability support activists, Australians living with disability and their families have much to celebrate today, with DisabilityCare Australia launched by PM KEVIN RUDD in Newcastle.The first stage of the Federal Government’s national disability insurance scheme will benefit about 26,000 people.It is expected to be fully operational in 2019, will cover half a million Australians, including 10 per cent of those suffering mental illness. It will cost the Federal Government $19.3 billion over seven years.DisabilityCare Chairman BRUCE BONYHADY says: “It’s not just about increased funding but about a much more effective way of supporting disabilities.”Minister for Disability Reform JENNY MACKLIN says she’s proud of the achievement:“Starting from today, thousands of Australians with significant and permanent disability will have, for the first time, the power to choose the support they need, and how that support is provided.”Australians eligible for DisabilityCare must be under the age of 65 with a significant and permanent disability.Social work student CAYTLIN WEIR has cerebral palsy and uses a communication device to speak. She spoke to the ABC, and is hopeful that DisabilityCare will provide her with greater support.“I need support with most things I do throughout the day. Yes, sometimes I need allowances, such as accessible classrooms and so on, but I don’t need special treatments. I expect NDIS will help me to be more independent, so I’m going to feel more in control of my life.”CHARLIE:A slew of industry groups have criticised Friday’s bill passing changes to the 457 visa program. The 457 visa grants temporary stay to overseas workers, and meets the labour gap in certain industries where Australia faces skills shortages. The bill means tighter regulations to the program and “labour market testing”. This will require employers to prove they have made sufficient attempts to recruit Australian workers before sponsoring foreign workers, as well as invest in training of local staff where necessary. But SCOTT THOMPSON from the Business Council of Australia says the changes are unnecessary, because visa rorts are extremely rare. 5. Scott Thompson.mp3 – 18 secs“Australian employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire local labour first. It just makes no sense to suggest that they would seek to use the 457 visa scheme to avoid hiring Australians, because the fact is it’s cheaper and faster to hire local labour when it’s available.”CHRISTINE: Victoria Police are appealing for witnesses after a 22-year-old woman was robbed and assaulted in the CBD last Monday. Victoria Police say the “woman was walking through the underpass at the corner of Spencer and Flinders streets when she was approached by a man and woman about 6pm.” She was then hit in the back of the head and punched in the stomach while her phone and backpack were stolen. This news comes a day after another woman was sexually assaulted in a North Melbourne laneway.CHARLIE: Victorian firefighters have taken to the streets in droves today, to protest the Napthine government’s Fire services property levy. The updated version of the existing levy – which is introduced today and subsidises the CFA and MFB – will collect money through council rates, rather than insurance premiums. The government says the changes will make the levy fairer, because all property owners will contribute, and eligible pensioners and veterans will receive a concession. Treasurer MICHAEL O’BRIEN says every dollar raised will be spent on fire services. But, the United Firefighters Union is concerned about how the money will be used. Spokes secretary PETER MARSHALL told SYN News about his concerns: “Well, what we’re concerned about is the fact that the government will actually be collecting more money for the fire service through the fire service levy. What we’re worried about is that that money is not going to where it’s needed most – and that’s to fire protection. Now, that is not in the interest of the community. When you’ve got $157 million of fire service levy money sitting in banks, it would be better spent ensuring the community is protected in it’s time of need.” Clad in firefighting suits, the firefighters congregated at Trades Hall this morning, before marching on State Parliament at 11:15.CHRISTINE: MAL WALDEN has decided to retire as Channel Ten’s senior news anchor in Melbourne. Network Ten announced today that WALDEN will step down as chief newsreader of the Network’s 6pm bulletin at the end of this year, until which he will present the Melbourne news for 3 days each week. WALDEN’s career has spanned 60 years, including forty years on TV and twenty-five as Channel 10 newsreader. Ten’s CEO, HAMISH MCLENNAN, told News Limited it was a sad day for the station, and that WALDEN had “brought the big news stories to Ten’s viewers with authority, integrity and passion.” WALDEN’S replacement is yet to be revealed, but the sports reporter STEPHEN QUARTERMAIN is rumoured to be in the mix. And on the subject of high-profile media retirements, JONATHON HOLMES will host Media Watch for the last time tonight. In a recent interview with timeout, HOLMES called his job “the toughest job at the ABC”, as it was difficult to win friends when he was judging their work week after week. Nonetheless, HOLMES says he has enjoyed being made to think about the difference between good and bad journalism, and was confident that new host Paul Barry would be a worthy replacement.CHARLIE: Nicole Hussey has been named young Victorian of the year this Victoria Day. The 22 year old is a founder of “In 2 LIFE”, a community-based mentoring program aimed at reducing suicidal behavior.It primarily uses social media.Hussey told SYN News she was still overwhelmed about receiving the title, but hoped that other young people would ultimately be the ones to benefit from the raised awareness. “I would just love to be able to use it to help more youth. We have a huge amount of youth within Victoria, let alone within Australia, struggling with mental health and issues of day-to-day life and everything, so I would love for us to be able to use this award to help a further number.” The award for Victorian of the Year went to JEANNIE PRATT, the widow of businessman RICHARD PRATT, in recognition of her contribution to the arts.Pratt used the occasion to urge fellow wealthy Australians to give more generously to good causes. CHRISTINE: A pay rise for Federal MPs, judges and government agency office holders takes effect today, raising the salary of an average backbencher to almost two-hundred thousand dollars, an increase of more than a thousand dollars a week.This will be the third pay rise for MPs in 16 months.The salaries of the political class are set by the independent Remuneration Tribunal, which claims the 2.4 per cent pay rise as ‘conservative and incremental’.Professor TIMOTHY BESLEY from the London School of Economics told the ABC that research suggests pay does affect the experience and qualifications of politicians drawn to parliament, as well as the amount of time they stay.Salaries will go up for review again in December. CHARLIE: US president BARACK OBAMA has spoken of his visit to Robben Island, where NELSON MANDELA was jailed for 27 years, as ‘deeply humbling’, and cited the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa as the trigger to taking his ‘first step in politics’.Mr OBAMA was given a guide around the island prison by a former fellow inmate and friend of Mr MANDELA, including a stop at the cell where Mr MANDELA was imprisoned and the quarry mine where prisoners were forced to labour.The US President is in South Africa for a three-nation tour of Africa. CHRISTINE: An Australian man has been sentenced to 40 years jail by a court in Indiana, for exploiting a boy he adopted and later took to the United States. The 42 year old man collaborated with his Australian partner to pay money for the child, an infant at the time, and falsified his documents to appear as his own biologically son.  The child was subject to sexual abuse from this man, and also taken to Australia, France and Germany where at least eight men were allowed to sexually abuse him. The man has pled guilty and was ordered to pay 400,000 US dollars compensation.CHARLIE: Five masked gunmen have shot dead two teenage girls in northern Pakistan, after mobile phone footage of the two dancing in the rain emerged in their conservative village. NOOR BASRA, 15, and NOOR SHEZA, 16, filmed themselves smiling and dancing around their house in the town of Chilas six months ago, a video which apparently outraged the town when it was circulated via mobile phone. Local Police believe this is what motivated the men to barge into the girl’s house anD open fire on Sunday, killing the girls and their mother. Dawn newspaper reported that an initial investigation found the girl’s stepbrother considered the video “an assault” on the honor of the family. Police are therefore treating the shooting as an “honor killing”, and have since confirmed they arrested the step-brother.CHRISTINE: German magazine DER SPIEGEL has published information that accuses the U.S. National Security Agency of spying on key European Union quarters. The allegations come from NSA documents leaked to the press by whistleblower EDWARD SNOWDEN in the recent national security scandal involving the NSA. The state security agency reportedly bugged and infiltrated computer systems at EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels.  It is further claimed that 500 million forms of communication are being monitored in Germany every month, making Germany the top target for US secret services. MARTIN SCHULZ, head of Euro Parliament has expressed he is “deeply worried and shocked” about these claims. If found accurate, the reports of unwarranted espionage could be damaging for a transatlantic free-trade partnership between US and Europe, long in negotiation.CHARLIE: A major accident was narrowly averted at the TOUR DE FRANCE overnight, after a dog ran free of its owner onto the road just as the main pelaton rode in.  The owner ran onto the road to try and grab the dog and miraculously, neither pet, man, nor cyclist was hurt. The tour has now experienced near-disasters on the finish line on both of its first 2 days: Yesterday, Australia’s Orica Green Edge Tour bus became stuck under the arch at the finish line of the first stage.CHARLIE: And now for more Tour de France news here’s ALEX DARLING with sport.ALEX: Thanks CHARLIE. Australian CADEL EVANS says he’s happy with his start to the 100th Tour de France. Overnight, EVANS completed the second stage of the race, finishing a second behind the surprise winner, belgian JAN BAKELANTS. Australia’s only Tour winner is confident he can repeat his 2011 success, and become the oldest person ever to win the tour at 36 years of age.To the AFL, and Greater Western Sydney has confirmed it is in talks with LANCE FRANKLIN’S management.  The Club’s list chief STEPHEN SILVAGNI confirmed the talks on Fox Footy, saying “Obviously GWS is speaking to Franklin’s management group.” In previous weeks, it has been reported that GWS will offer the Hawks power forward a contract worth NINE MILLION DOLLARS over six years, and that this figure could increase should the AFL give FRANKLIN promotional money as a league ambassador in Western Sydney. The Giants have not confirmed the details of any such offer.Meanwhile, North Melbourne’s LINDSAY THOMAS can accept a two-match ban for headbutting JACOB TOWNSEND in North’s win over GWS. Geelong’s JOEL COREY and Fremantle’s ZAC DAWSON can accept reprimands for separate incidents in the Cats’ win over the Dockers.In other footy news, Former AFL footballer Barry Hall is closer to a lifetime ban, after he was reported for striking an opposition player while playing for his home club Broadford on Friday night. The four time all-australian and captain of Sydney’s 2005 premiership winning side was known for his many run-ins with the tribunal, earning him a total of 13 weeks suspension, 3 weeks short of being banned from the sport for life under the AFL’s deregistration policy. Broadford will contest the charge at the Riddel District Football League’s tribunal hearing tomorrow night.***Meanwhile, Adelaide half-back Graham Johncock has announced his retirement from the AFL, effective immediately.———————————————————-BERNARD TOMIC has admitted World Number six TOMAS BERDYCH will be a formidable opponent ahead of the pair’s clash in the fourth round of Wimbledon tonight. Having been reminded that the Czech has beaten past tournament winners ROGER FEDERER and NOVAK DJOKOVIC, the Queenslander agreed “it’s not easy playing this guy.” Tomic remains the only Australian in the men’s draw after qualifying for the final 16 with a 4-set win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet. And now back to CHRISTINE with the weather. CHRISTINE: Thanks ALEXTo the weather, Right now in the city, it’s fifteen degrees. We’re headed for an overnight low of eleven, before a partly cloudy day tomorrow, with a top of eighteen degrees.  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. 

July 1st 2013
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