Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Joe Biden vows 'we are not going to leave Australia alone on the field' as the US president promises to stand by 'dear ally' Scott Morrison in trade war with China

Beijing must stop its economic coercion of Australia before the US grants China any improvement in relations, one of President Joe Biden's trade chiefs has warned. He's told the Chinese government 'we are not going to leave Australia alone on the field'.

Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell made the comments after speaking to President Biden about his administration's plans for working with China.

'We have made clear that the US is not prepared to improve relations in a bilateral and separate context at the same time that a close and dear ally is being subjected to a form of economic coercion,' he told Nine newspapers.

His appointment as President Biden's 'Asia tsar' is seen as boosting the US effort to gather allies to confront an increasingly aggressive China.

'President Biden was very direct with Prime Minister Morrison that we stood together on this,' said Mr Campbell, who was at the Quad meeting.

'So we've indicated both to Australia and China at the highest levels that we are fully aware of what's going on and we are not prepared to take substantial steps to improve relations until those policies are addressed and a more normal interplay between Canberra and Beijing is established.'

Beijing has imposed trade bans and tariffs on at least $20billion worth of Australian exports to China.

Mr Campbell said such coercive action by China has also been seen in the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere.

President Biden has kept in place punitive tariffs and other sanctions his predecessor, Donald Trump, applied to China. He has said he would consult with US allies before making any decisions on the China sanctions.


Fury as schools BAN birthday cakes from being brought into class because of their strict 'healthy eating' rules

A number of schools across New South Wales have banned birthday cakes from being brought in by students over 'healthy eating policies'.

Greta Public School in the Hunter Valley and Wollondilly Anglican College in Tahmoor have both banned students bringing birthday cakes into class.

Schools are urging parents to bring in healthier alternatives as some say their children are eating cake numerous times a week.

Last year, a number of schools cancelled the birthday cakes due to COVID-19 restrictions and kept the ban in place.

Greta Public school wrote in a newsletter that due to COVID-19 parents were encouraged not to bring cupcakes for their child's birthday, they were able to purchase a 'birthday bucket' of sugar-free ice blocks.

'The 'bucket' has enough sugar free Zooper Dooper ice blocks for your child's class, delivered at a time when the teacher says is convenient to their learning day', the letter read.

Wollondilly Anglican College also said cakes were 'causing concern' and didn't fit into the school's healthy eating policy.

'Most weeks see a birthday or two from each class, sometimes several on one day. This makes it difficult to promote our healthy eating policy amongst the junior years', a newsletter read.

Teachers also said that the celebrations added stress on parents.

'It is also causing additional stress for parents who may not have the time or money to bake or buy treats', the letter read.

A spokesperson from Wollondilly Anglican College said that the parents were surveyed about the potential cake ban and most found it beneficial to ban the cakes.

'The survey revealed that it alleviated parent pressure and the parents found it helpful to not have to make the cakes.' They said.

'We're a nut-aware college and the ban helps us to reduce the risk of allergies'


A new rule for police to prioritise domestic violence calls met with criticism from some officers

A new rule for police to prioritise all domestic violence calls has been met with resistance from officers on the ground, who say they are attending some “jobs that do not require a police response whatsoever”.

Queensland Police Service (QPS) Commissioner Katarina Carroll made the call to prioritise domestic violence (DV) call-outs following the February 22 death of Browns Plains woman Doreen Langham, who had phoned Triple-0 in the hours before she was killed at the hands of her ex-partner Gary Hely.

In a March 12 letter penned by Queensland Police Union of Employees (QPUE) General Secretary Mick Barnes and addressed to Assistant Commissioner of Police, Cameron Harsley, concerns are raised the blanket rule means calls officers believe as being more serious were getting pushed back.

“The membership has been very positive about the reduction of Calls for Service because of the introduction of SOLVE … being the new assessment tool for calls for the police service to determine what jobs police are to attend and in what priority,” Mr Barnes wrote.

“However, the recent decision to now upgrade the code on all DV matters has completely undermined the efficient operation of the SOLVE strategy.

“Members have raised concerns that they are now attending allegedly DV jobs that do not require a police response whatsoever, whilst much more serious matters are not being attended promptly.”

But QPS Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, 61, denies this to be the case, saying Triple-0 calls are still assigned in order of priority on a grading scale from one to five, with a ‘code one’ being the most urgent.

The SOLVE strategy – or Severity, Opportunity, Likelihood, Vulnerability and Expectation – is a new guideline designed to assist police better prioritise calls for help based on the details provided during each call.

It is one component of the QPS Service Delivery Redesign Project (SDRP), designed to create more efficient and effective policing methods, implemented on February 8.

One part of the change has included the introduction of updated response codes, used by staff in police communication centres, to help triage calls so jobs can then be assigned to officers in order of priority.

An urgent job will be assigned as ‘code one’ while the least non-urgent job is assigned as a code five on the grading scale.

Commissioner Carroll instated the rule that every single domestic violence-related call would now be prioritised as at least a ‘code three’ just days after Ms Langham’s death in a fire police suspect was lit by Hely, her ex-partner.

Ms Langham, 49, who had been granted a temporary protection order against Hely in court on February 9, had called Triple-0 about 9.30pm February 21 stating he was outside her home.

The officers did not arrive until after midnight and allegedly left when they could not find Ms Langham.

Police said 49-year-old Hely – who was already wanted on a breach of domestic violence order offence – set fire to Ms Langham’s Myola Street townhouse just before 4am.

Her death is being treated as a murder-suicide, with the body of a man, believed to be Hely, also found in the fire debris.

Mr Gollschewski said while the Triple-0 call made by Ms Langham to police hours before she was killed was determined to be a “code three” – meaning a police presence was necessary – not all domestic-violence calls were previously assigned such a high priority, depending on the information provided during the call.

The deputy commissioner said, despite the concerns raised in the QPUE’s letter, management had not yet seen any evidence the new rule had taken away from other urgent calls in the first few weeks of it being rolled out.

“We’re not seeing any evidence its impacting on other jobs,” he said. “If something is coded three and we have a code one or two happening at the same time, then those jobs are going to still get priority.

“Code three means we need to get there but if it’s the next job and a code two or one come through, then it will still get bumped.”

The complaint about police now having to respond in person to every single domestic-violence related call was one of several concerns outlined in the police union’s letter, following a number of internal changes being introduced under the SDRP.

Mr Gollschewski said the issue would continue to be monitored, alongside other new changes being introduced under the redesign plan.

Ms Langham’s death is also now under investigation by the Queensland coroner as a “death in police operation,” meaning her death occurred during an active report to police.


Pauline adds balance to all the abused women excitement

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Television identity Lisa Wilkinson has fired an angry response to Pauline Hanson after the One Nation leader accused feminist protesters of 'demonising men.'

Senator Hanson also questioned parliamentary rape whistle blower Brittany Higgins for going public with her alleged ordeal two years after the event instead of pursuing the matter through the courts.

Pauline Hanson's strong words came a day after March For Justice rallies took place across Australia which called for more action to stamp out sexual abuse and punish offenders.

'Stop demonising men,' Hanson told Sky News on Tuesday. 'There are false allegations, there are men who have been accused of these things that didn't, it didn't happen.'

Thousands joined the March For Justice rallies across Australia on Monday, with the issue of sexual abuse stirred up by a historical rape allegation against Attorney General Christian Porter, which he denied.

Ms Higgins, a former Liberal Party staffer, kick-started the movement by going public with claims she was raped by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019.

Hanson criticised Ms Higgins for waiting two years to speak out about the alleged rape, despite the now 26-year-old telling police immediately afterward.

'Brittany Higgins, she had the right to go and lay those charges,' she said.

'Take it to the courts. If you've got a case for assault then you take it to the courts.'

Hanson spoke from her family experiences in saying that false rape allegations can 'destroy lives'.

In 2019, the senator accused her son's ex-wife of making false claims that he sexually abused his own child.

'I know this feeling because for years my own son faced these destructive allegations in an attempt to stop him having access to his young son,' she told the Senate at the time.

'My ex-daughter-in-law claimed to police that my son was outside her home in Townsville.

'That was despite him being sick and on the Gold Coast, some 1,000 kilometres away. He was forced to defend himself, at enormous expense, and was dragged through the courts.

'She also falsely alleged – a soul-crushing claim – that my son had sexually abused his boy. Again, the false claim was designed to stop him having any connection with his son. No charges were brought against my son.'




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