Labor says Christensen crossing the floor on penalty rates is ‘blow’

Labor and the Greens insist they will keep fighting to overturn a decision to scale back some weekend penalty rates despite losing a vote in parliament.


The opposition gained the support of Nationals MP George Christensen on Tuesday night when he crossed the floor on an amendment that would have prevented cuts to Sunday penalty rates for some workers.

But the move was defeated 73-72.

0:00 Labor Senator Doug Cameron on penalty rates. Share Labor Senator Doug Cameron on penalty rates.

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor says Labor will relentlessly pursue the Fair Work Commission decision which will be phased in from July 1.

“If the government thinks that this matter is over when we rise at the end of this week, they are mistaken,” Mr O’Connor told reporters on Wednesday.

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Labor will campaign across the country during the parliamentary winter break.

“It’s one thing to be thinking about a cut that will happen; once cuts start to happen and the effects are real, this changes fundamentally,” he said.

“We won’t be talking about workers who may be losing money, we’ll be talking about workers that (sic) have lost money that can’t pay the rent, can’t pay for bills.”

Mr O’Connor called on Victorian independent MP Cathy McGowan to reconsider her position and back Labor’s push.

Greens MP Adam Bandt was pleased a “snowball” seems to be growing behind the minor party’s position to lock in penalty rates.

“We are now only a vote or two away in this parliament from stopping the penalty rate cuts from coming into effect,” he said.

Fast food, hospitality, retail and pharmacy workers will see their Sunday penalty rates drop five percentage points on July 1.

The full cuts of 25-50 percentage points will be imposed on some workers by 2019 and for others by 2020.

New video shows acquitted US police officer shooting Philando Castile

The jarring footage captures the fateful exchange between Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black motorist, and police officer Jeronimo Yanez in an incident that sparked nationwide protests last year.


The dash-cam video — part of a trove of documents, images and audio from the investigation — shows Yanez approaching Castile’s car and explaining that he was pulled over for broken brake lights.

Thirty seconds later, Castile says, “Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.”

Castile had a legal permit to carry a gun. 

The officer responds, “Don’t reach for it then,” and Castile can be heard attempting to explain what he is reaching for.

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The conversation lasts just eight seconds, with Yanez interrupting twice saying, “Don’t pull it out.” 

Yanez then shoots seven times into the driver’s side of the vehicle, with the first shots at such close range that his weapon is partially inside the car cabin.  

The incident — one in a series of high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police — stunned the nation after Castile’s final moments were livestreamed on Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, as blood spread on Castile’s shirt.

Prosecutors would later say that Yanez had thought Castile resembled a suspect in a nearby armed robbery a few days earlier.  

Reynolds said Castile was reaching for his wallet and identification when he was shot.  

But the police officer later told investigators that he feared for his life.  

In the video, as emergency medical personnel are working on Castile who is laying on the street, Yanez can be heard off camera recounting the events of the shooting.  

“[Castile] was just staring straight ahead and I was getting fucking nervous,” Yanez says, his voice sounding distressed.   

“I told him not to reach for it,” he says. 

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The 29-year-old police officer was acquitted last Friday of second-degree manslaughter and of two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon.  

The acquittal led to renewed protests in Minnesota, with 18 people arrested Saturday after blocking a major highway near the courthouse in the capital city of St Paul.  

Federal prosecutors said they are assessing the case to see if it warrants further review.  

Trump says China ‘tried’ but failed on North Korea

Mr Trump’s comments come amid a ratcheting up the rhetoric over the death of an American student who had been detained by Pyongyang.


Trump had held high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his assistance.

The two leaders had a high-profile summit in Florida in April and Trump has frequently praised Xi and resisted criticising Chinese trade practices.

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. 

It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the US struggle to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test launching of missiles or a change in US policy toward China.

But it was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of a US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on Wednesday.

The talks will pair US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of state of the People’s Liberation Army.

The State Department says the dialogue will focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, but also cover such areas as counter-terrorism and territorial rivalries in the strategic South China Sea.

In a sign that US-Chinese relations remain stable, a White House aide said Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, were invited by the Beijing government to visit China later this year.

Mr Trump also described the treatment of US student Otto Warmbier by North Korea as a disgrace.

In a White House meeting with visiting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticised the way Warmbier’s case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, US President Barack Obama.

“What happened to Otto is a disgrace. And I spoke with his family. His family is incredible … but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less likely following Warmbier’s death.

Spicer said Trump would be willing to meet Kim under the right conditions, but that, “clearly we’re moving further away, not closer to those conditions”.


One-third of preschoolers own smartphones

It appears owning a smartphone or tablet is the new normal for Australian children, raising serious health concerns among pediatricians.


The latest Australian Child Health Poll shows one-third of preschoolers and two- thirds of primary school-aged children own such devices and 50 per cent of them are using them unsupervised.

Paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes, director of the national poll, says knowing so many very young children are spending too much time on devices is a “worrying” trend.

Dr Rhodes says there is very little evidence to support the idea a smartphone or tablet boosts a toddler’s development.

But there is plenty of evidence linking excessive use to health problems.

“Particularly with sleep difficulties, problems related to unhealthy weight gain and then difficulties with social and emotional wellbeing,” Dr Rhodes said.

One of the poll’s most significant findings, was that almost half of children regularly used screen-based devices at bedtime, with one in four reporting sleep problems as a result.

Two-thirds of families reported family conflict relating to screen time use and 85 per cent of parents admitted using screens to occupy kids in order to get things done.

The poll also identified a link between parents’ screen use and their children’s use of screens.

“Basically, a parent who has high levels of screen use is more likely to have a child with high levels of use. Three quarters of parents of children under six also said they do not put time limits on screen use,” said Dr Rhodes.

Of any age group, teens spend the most amount of time on a screen-based device at home.

They average almost 44 hours of use per week – that’s more time spent for the average full time job.

Teenagers using screens routinely at bedtime were also more likely to report bullying via social media.

As a pediatrician at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Dr Rhodes increasingly sees the consequences of such excessive screen and media use in children.

She says physical playtime and face-to-face contact is critical for a young child’s brain and body development.

“Every hour a child spends engaged by themselves on a device like that is an hour they’re not doing something like being physically active or having face-to-face play and social interaction.”

Israel starts work on new settlement amid US peace push

The Amichai settlement will be the first new government-sanctioned Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories in some 25 years.


It is being built for the roughly 40 families evicted from the wildcat outpost of Amona earlier this year after Israel’s high court ruled their homes had been built illegally on private Palestinian land.


“Today, the work on the ground has begun, as I promised, to establish a new settlement for the Amona settlers,” Netanyahu tweeted over a picture of a small bulldozer and a digger working.

“After dozens of years, I have the privilege to be the prime minister building a new settlement in Judaea and Samaria,” Netanyahu tweeted, using the Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank.

On the site in the mid afternoon, a single Caterpillar bulldozer was clearing rocks and rubble to create a path near a vineyard, while four others stood idle.

The bulldozer’s driver, a kippah-wearing Israeli who said he was from a settlement in the southern West Bank, said they were laying the foundations for two new roads that would lead to the new settlement.

The land is surrounded by a number of other small settlements and is a few kilometres from the Palestinian village of Duma, where a Palestinian family were burned alive by radical settlers in 2015.

While Israel has not launched new settlements in recent decades, extensive construction has focussed on expanding existing settlements.

היום החלו העבודות בשטח, כפי שהבטחתי, להקמת היישוב החדש למתיישבי עמונה. אחרי עשרות שנים, יש לי הזכות להיות רה״מ שבונה יישוב חדש ביו״ש pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/sNDKlDzaCu

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) June 20, 2017’Thwarting Trump’

Netanyahu’s announcement comes a day after Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt arrived for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on relaunching peace talks that collapsed in 2014.

Greenblatt is to be joined by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday.

Together they will “spearhead the peace effort” the US administration believes is possible, a White House official said.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and are considered one of the main obstacles to peace.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal but Israel draws a distinction between those it sanctions and those it does not, so-called outposts.

Trump has asked Netanyahu to hold back on settlement building as he seeks to build momentum for a new peace push.

But the Israeli leader faces political pressure from the settler movement, which wields strong influence in his right-wing governing coalition.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, called the new building work a “serious escalation,” in a statement published by official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The project, he said, was “an attempt to thwart the efforts of the American administration, to thwart the efforts of US President Donald Trump.”

Ahead of the arrival of the two envoys, the White House urged both Israel and the Palestinians to “create an environment conducive to peacemaking”. 

“Those who want to make it harder rather than easier to make peace, whether by their statements or their actions, must be prevented from subverting the chances for peace,” the official said.

Tuesday’s ground-clearing work was in preparation for the installation of dozens of mobile homes for the families evicted from Amona, a spokesman for the main settler organisation, the Yesha Council, said.

The settlers would live in the temporary accommodation while work continues on building more permanent homes, the spokesman added.

0:00 Israel flouting Security Council settlement demand: UN envoy Share Israel flouting Security Council settlement demand: UN envoy

NSW govt hits schools for budget pitch

The NSW government’s $4.


2 billion budget promise to help deal with the unprecedented surge in student enrolments is just the beginning, Education Minister Rob Stokes has declared.

The minister hinted there was more to come as he joined Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to put the sell on Tuesday’s budget.

“This is just the beginning,” Mr Stokes told reporters at Sydney’s inner west Croydon Public School on Wednesday.

“Obviously we’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us, but this money shows a real commitment and a real plan towards delivering the extra capacity that we’re going to need to support families and students across NSW.”

The government’s $1.6 billion boost to education infrastructure spending was a centrepiece of Mr Perrottet’s debut budget.

The treasurer devoted a whopping $72.7 billion for state infrastructure over the next four years, after a $4.5 billion surplus was forecast for this financial year.

A significant chunk will go towards the government’s roads and rail projects – including $3.2 billion alone for WestConnex – while $7.7 billion will be spent on hospitals.

While the government described its budget as “the envy of the Western world”, it was criticised for not doing more to address the rising cost of living.

The treasurer on Wednesday defended his handling of the spoils.

“There are a range of measures in the budget in relation to cost of living,” he said.

“Our energy rebates, (which is) $1 billion dollars over four years or our CTP reforms, which will reduce the cost of running a vehicle.”

The government’s $100 sport rebate for parents with school-aged children would also make a real difference.

“We’ll be doing consultation with certain community groups over the next few months because we want to make sure that we have as many sports available for kids to participate in,” he said.

With the state’s books expected to remain comfortably in the black over the next four years, Premier Berejiklian meanwhile urged residents to “watch this space”.

“As you know, major projects don’t just come out of thin air … we’re doing all the homework now,” she said.

Rio director steps down after UK charges

Rio Tinto director John Varley has stepped down from the mining giant’s board after being charged in a high-profile UK corruption investigation.


Mr Varley, a former chief executive of Barclays, is among the four of the bank’s former senior executives charged by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and unlawful financial assistance.

The charges follow an investigation into undisclosed payments to Qatari investors during an emergency fund raising by Barclays in 2008, when Mr Varley headed the bank.

Rio said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Varley had resigned with immediate effect, but did not mention the charges.

“The board holds him in the highest regard and will miss his valuable insight,” chairman Jan du Plessis said.

“Personally, I am not only losing a senior independent director, but a close colleague, whose wisdom and support I am going to miss tremendously.”

Mr Varley joined Rio’s board as an independent director in September 2011, and was the chair of the board’s remuneration committee.

He was also tasked with leading the process to select a new chairman for Rio Tinto after Mr du Plessis announced in May he will retire before the 2018 annual general meeting, and take up a role as chairman of UK telco giant BT Group.

Rio said an announcement about the appointment of a new independent director and chair of the board’s remuneration committee will be made in due course.

Rio shares were down $1.49, or 2.5 per cent, at $58.23 at 1205 AEST, in a significantly weaker market.

SKorea says crashed NKorean drone had pics

South Korea’s military says a North Korean drone found earlier this month on a mountain near the Demilitarised Zone border is a “grave provocation” that violates the Korean War truce.


The drone crashed while returning to the North and was found equipped with a camera and aerial photographs of a US anti-missile defence system site in a southern region of South Korea, South Korean officials told a briefing on Wednesday.

The origin and flight path of the drone were confirmed in an analysis of the onboard computer and camera, South Korea’s defence ministry and military officials told the briefing.

“The intrusion of our airspace by the North Korean drone and photographing of a military base is a violation of the Armistice and an agreement on non-aggression and is an act of grave provocation,” Jeon Dong-jin, an official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff office said.

“We strongly condemn the North’s continued attempts at penetrating the South with drones and once again, demand all acts of provocation are halted,” he said during the briefing.

“If North Korea continues to engage in acts of provocation against the South, our military will forcefully retaliate and we warn all responsibility for events occurring going forth is with the North.”

The drone had been launched in the Kumgang-gun area in Kangwon Province on May 2, the defence ministry’s spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told the briefing.

“The aircraft proceeded to fly for a total of five hours and thirty minutes and its assessed flight path matched the evidence seen in the photographs taken by it,” said Moon.

Moon added the drone had been found with roughly 550 photographs and the military assessed it aimed to collect information on South Korean military bases and the anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system located in Seongju, South Korea, 217km south of Seoul.

The drone had turned around in Seongju after taking photographs, Moon said, and later crashed in Inje-gun in the South’s Gangwon Province where it was found by South Korean military on June 9.

The US THAAD anti-defence system has been deployed in South Korea to counter a growing missile threat from North Korea. North Korean drones are known to have flown over South Korea several times.

No need for Origin III changes: Maloney

NSW don’t need to overreact to their spectacular State of Origin II collapse and make wholesale changes for game three, according to five-eighth James Maloney.


Bookmakers have already installed the Blues as heavy underdogs for the Suncorp Stadium decider as Queensland attempt to farewell champion Johnathan Thurston a winner.

The Blues have lost the past six Origin deciders dating back to the beginning of the Maroons reign in 2006 – Thurston’s second series in the interstate arena.

Maloney urged coach Laurie Daley and adviser Peter Sterling to keep faith in the 17 players that dominated for most of this year’s campaign.

“I’m sure they will (keep the team). There’s no reason to change it. I don’t know that there’s reason to. It’s stuff we need to fix up,” Maloney said.

The Cronulla playmaker said the Blues would rely on their shellacking of Queensland in game one to give them the belief to spoil Thurston’s party.

He insists NSW have been the better team so far this series.

“We need to do what we did in game one and what we did for the first half in this game. I suppose when you look at it, we played well and beat them well game one,” he said.

“We threw a game away tonight that we should’ve won. We’ll go up there confident in doing the job, but she’ll still be a big ask.”

Maloney was at a loss to explain his team’s second-half fade-out at ANZ Stadium, and rued missing a strong opportunity to close out the series.

Up 16-6 at halftime, an ill-disciplined Blues invited Queensland back into the contest with 20 of their 27 missed tackles as well as costly errors and penalties.

Centre Jarryd Hayne was the chief culprit with three turnovers and two penalties, however the Blues still had a four-point lead with four minutes remaining.

“It’s a game we had to win. We should never have lost it from there. It was a disappointing last 15 or so minutes,” Maloney said.

“The first 40 we played worked, and we just seemed to do the same again. But along the way we made some decisions that weren’t what they should’ve been.

“We gave the opportunity after opportunity, and eventually they took it.”

Cordner fights tears after Origin II loss

NSW captain Boyd Cordner had to fight back tears as he struggled to comprehend how his Blues threw away a State of Origin series win on Wednesday night.


Up 1-0 in the series, the Blues led by four points with four minutes remaining when Queensland centre Dane Gagai scored to give Johnathan Thurston a chance to nail his game-winning conversion.

A shattered Cordner admitted his men were guilty of ill-discipline in the second half.

“We worked really hard in the first half to put ourselves in a position to be up by ten points, I thought we came out in the second half really good and I thought we applied some pressure again,” Cordner said.

But what the Blues couldn’t do was continue to apply that pressure as they failed to complete several sets properly, giving up a number of seven-tackle opportunities.

“I just felt like we gave Queensland too much cheap ball. There was a stage in the second half where we weren’t finishing the sets the way we wanted to,” he said.

“It felt like we were getting on top, then gave away a cheap penalty for them out of yardage.

“If you do that in Origin, especially against Queensland, give them too much quality ball, they’ll make you pay like they did tonight.

“There was some positive signs there for us but it’s just so disappointing. To work so hard, and then to come down to that and get beat like that, it hurts.”

Cordner urged his teammates to use the defeat as motivation, and take solace from their game one effort in Brisbane ahead of what looms as a tough task in game three.

Queensland will now enjoy the advantage of hosting the final Origin game for Johnathan Thurston, and possibly Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

The latter pair have yet to decide whether they will continue playing NRL next year.

“It’s hard, but that’s the beauty of winning game one, we put ourselves in a position now to take it to game three,” Cordner said.

“Especially game one and how we performed up there, we know we can do it again. Stay tight, let it burn, let it hurt, get back together and we’ll be ready to go again.”