Communities scared of losing cyclone jobs

Remote Indigenous communities slammed by two cyclones are nervous that rebuilding jobs to repair their communities will be taken by fly-in-fly-out white people.

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Residents of Galiwinku and Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land said they were eager to work with the mainstream community to develop skills and rebuild.

“I need to put my people to this job and push my people to work with these whitefellas,” Galiwinku resident Timmy Ganambarr told AAP.

“People need help to get up and walk with you mob together, climb this big hill together.”

Yirrkala resident Djuwalpi Marika said he wanted to build pride in the community’s economic sustainability.

“We are a passenger, we want to be a driver,” he said.

“We have so much land, we could be rich in our minerals and land, but when you look, we are in poverty, third world country.”

He said he didn’t want Centrelink handouts, but to work with government.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has been visiting the communities this week, and he agreed.

“There is, like me, a bit of cynicism and a bit of nervousness about what has always happened in the past – that white people with nail bags and hammers get off planes, do the work and disappear,” he said from Yirrkala on Friday.

“I’m here to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

He said that while building a new home took time and training, there was plenty of refurbishment work that could be mostly undertaken by locals.

“(It’s about) ensuring those people in community are front and centre; it should only be when we completely can’t find someone that we look for assistance for the job.”

While Galiwinku had suffered far greater damage from the two storms earlier this year and needed the emergency funds that have been directed there, environmental damage from both cyclones is still evident around indigenous communities near Nhulunbuy.

“We’re scared down here that one day a bigger cyclone is going to wipe us out,” renowned Yirrkala artist Banduk Marika said.

“Environmental thinkers have got to say, ‘what are we going to do to save the beach down there and the community down there?”

At Ski Beach community, three boats remain dumped on the rocky sand by Cyclone Nathan, and uprooted trees still dot the streets and block footpaths.

Mr Scullion said he had spoken to the local Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation on Friday about plans to collect the fallen trees and recycle them as lumber and timber, which he applauded as innovative.

“I’ve been really heartened by the work that’s been done,” he said.

Doubts over domestic violence order scheme

Women fleeing abusive partners may have to wait until next year before getting access to a scheme recognising domestic violence orders across state and territory borders.

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The scheme will make orders automatically recognised and enforceable in any jurisdiction across the country.

Courts and police officers across states will share information on active orders – and NSW, Queensland and Tasmania will trial the system.

However, its full operation will have to wait for the formal approval of the nation’s leaders who met as the Council of Australian Governments in Canberra on Friday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was logistically difficult to impose such changes across the country.

But he would be “very disappointed” if the scheme wasn’t in place within 12 months, given discussions about reform have been going on for too long.

“This idea that any of us should be just going about business as usual in the knowledge that tens of thousands and more are being terrorised in their own homes, it’s just wrong,” he said.

Besides the scheme, a strategy to help women tackle online abuse will also be drawn up by 2015-end, while $30 million will be pumped towards a national campaign to show Australians the “evil” of domestic violence.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the campaign must recognise regional, cultural and relationship differences and focus on people of non-English speaking backgrounds, indigenous communities, and those in same-sex relationships.

“They can’t be overlooked in this context,” he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wanted specialised domestic violence courts.

“I think that we can explore (this) further in terms of having a holistic approach,” she said.

Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty will be assisted by former Victorian police chief commissioner Key Lay on developing the campaign.

Ms Batty shared her story with the leaders before their meeting, opening up on her own experiences and how the system failed her.

In a separate measure, the federal government has pledged $15 million to community services to help women affected by domestic violence, alcohol or drug issues.

West Ham short of scoring options, says Allardyce

The London club have been desperate to pull out of a slump that has brought only one win in 11 games since the middle of January, leading to speculation about whether the experienced Allardyce will be offered a new contract.

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He admitted last week that if they had started the season like they are finishing it, he would already have been sacked.

His team were in fourth place at Christmas, with City one of their victims in a 2-1 success at Upton Park in October.

Senegalese striker Diafra Sakho scored the winning goal that day, becoming the first West Ham player to find the net in six successive Premier League games.

But Sakho now has a thigh problem and Andy Carroll, after returning from injury during that successful spell, is out for the rest of the season following knee surgery.

“It leaves us short in goalscoring options because Andy and Sakho are our two leading scorers this season,” Allardyce told a news conference.

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia is fit, however, and Carlton Cole will play.

From sitting in the Champions League places, West Ham have dropped to ninth and the manager said their aim now was to reach 50 points and finish higher than in the two previous seasons since winning promotion back to the Premier League.

Allardyce is among those surprised that Sunday’s opponents City are in such poor form, having lost four games out of six and dropped out of contention to retain their title.

“It’s a huge shock, based on the huge amount of talent they have but like ourselves they can’t find a way to win at the moment,” he said.

“It’ll test their nerve a little bit but, hopefully, we can test their nerve.”

(Reporting by Steve Tongue, editing by Ed Osmond)

WA gay bash murderers jailed for 21yrs

A gay man who was beaten to death in a Perth public toilet by two strangers in a brutal and unprovoked attack would have forgiven his killers, his family says.

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Warren Gerard Batchelor, 48, died in hospital from life-threatening injuries inflicted by Mark Taylor and Daniel Wade Jones, who found him having sex with another man in a toilet block at Middle Swan Reserve in Caversham in November 2013.

The pair, aged 43 and 37 respectively, were sentenced on Friday to life in prison for Mr Batchelor’s murder and must serve a minimum of 21 years behind bars before they will be eligible for parole.

The West Australian Supreme Court heard Taylor yelled “get up you f***ing f****t” as he kicked down the door of the cubicle.

Taylor then punched Mr Batchelor in the head, causing him to fall to the floor, and continued to attack him while Jones beat him with a wooden pole.

Taylor then pulled an 18cm long knife on the surviving victim, who managed to flee the attack as Taylor chased him and yelled “come back f****t”.

Neither offender made any effort to help Mr Batchelor and have expressed no remorse for their actions, the court heard.

Taylor’s lawyer Simon Freitag said in his sentencing submission that his client had been camping with his children when he learnt that gay men often met at the reserve for sex, which he found shocking and confronting, and wanted the men to leave.

But Justice Lindy Jenkins said she was satisfied the men’s motivation was to brutally beat an unsuspecting man because of his sexuality.

She said despite what someone might think of another person’s sexual activity, it was not provocation for assault of any kind and the public should appreciate assaults of that nature would not be tolerated.

“Your behaviour went far beyond what would be expected of a father in your situation,” she said.

Justice Jenkins said both men, who had only met days earlier at the reserve, had gross disregard for Mr Batchelor’s life, leaving him injured without regard for whether he lived or died.

She said it was not known which man delivered the fatal blow that led to Mr Batchelor’s death but that did not matter because they were both equally culpable in his murder.

In a statement, Mr Batchelor’s family said knowing their beloved Warren, “he would have forgiven them already”.

“Whilst we pray for them to be rehabilitated and, if ever, returned to the community as better persons, we remain broken for the rest of our lives. Our thanks again goes out to everyone”.

‘The elephant in the room is GST’: WA disappointed after COAG meeting

A meeting of the nation’s leaders has left it to the federal government and Western Australia to find an answer to the state’s GST revenue shortfall.

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The Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on Friday decided the merits of the distribution scheme should be considered in the white paper on reform of the federation.

The commonwealth and WA are having bilateral discussions about how best to address the impact of a $300 million drop in the state’s GST share in 2015-2106.

WA Premier Colin Barnett: ‘You can understand why I’m angry, you can understand why west Australians are angry.’ #COAG

— Karen Barlow (@KJBar) April 17, 2015

WA Premier Colin Barnett was disappointed at the meeting’s outcome.

“The elephant in the room is GST and that’s what this COAG has been significantly about,” he said, adding the leaders had an opportunity to show some willingness to achieve reform and it wasn’t there.

“So I don’t know how we’re going to reform Australia and modernise it when we can’t tackle an issue which is so inequitable.”

WA Premier Colin Barnett: ‘Western Australia feels very poorly treated.’ #COAG

— Karen Barlow (@KJBar) April 17, 2015

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said the future of the federation would have been undermined if COAG had agreed to make allowances for WA at the expense of other states.

In welcoming further discussions about reforms to the federation, he said that needed to be done outside the annual argy-bargy of the GST distribution.

“The political bun fight serves no great purpose,” Mr Hodgman said.

Mr Abbott flagged putting a floor under GST distribution, so that every state knew the minimum amount they would receive.

He also ruled out any “free gifts” for any state or territory to overcome one-off shortfalls.

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