France’s Fillon rejects new revelations

“I won’t say another word about these things,” the conservative contender said on French television, condemning “successive revelations, carefully disseminated by state services.


The revelation comes as France gears up for the first balloting in the two-stage presidential race on April 23.

Fillon, once the race’s frontrunner and who denies any wrongdoing, was charged with abuse of public funds last month in a scandal that he has blamed on the outgoing Socialist government.


The 63-year-old is accused of giving fake jobs to his Welsh-born wife Penelope that earned her 680,000 euros (AUD$961,000) in salary payments between 1986 and 2013.

Mediapart said late Monday that “Penelope Fillon in fact benefited from public funds from the first parliamentary mandate of her husband through contracts for studies or projects that he commissioned.”

Watch: French election campaign offically begins

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Fillon, first elected to represent the central Sarthe region in 1981, went on to become prime minister under president Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012.

Other accusations of financial impropriety have piled up since the claims first broke in January, including that Fillon failed to declare an interest-free loan and that he accepted gifts of bespoke suits from a wealthy friend.

Fillon has seen his poll numbers decline since the scandal broke to around 17-19 points, neck-and-neck with far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon and behind centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday broke with his country’s official neutrality on Tuesday by expressing a preference for Macron over Fillon, saying the conservative’s response to the scandals had “not been very encouraging”.

“Don’t put me in a difficult spot, you know who my political family is,” Schaeuble told a debate organised by the Spiegel weekly, in reference to his conservative CDU party which is affiliated in Europe with Fillon’s Republicans.

But Schaeuble added: “If I was French, if I was able to vote… I would probably vote for Macron.”

French presidential election candidates Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen, and Benoit Hamon.AAP

Why now? lawyer asks 

Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy confirmed that investigators seized “contracts for studies” during a raid of the candidate’s parliamentary offices in late January but said they were of “no interest” to the probe which he said reaches back only to 1997.

“The real question is why the financial prosecutor, which has known of these documents for weeks, has not spoken of them and why this information is coming out two weeks before the first round,” Levy told AFP.

Fillon was the surprise winner of the rightwing Republicans party’s November primary after campaigning on his squeaky clean image.

His two leading rivals, Sarkozy and former prime minister Alain Juppe, were both tainted by legal woes.

Fillon has said that incumbent President Francois Hollande, who decided in December not to run for re-election, headed a “secret cabinet” responsible for the explosive fake jobs revelations.

Related reading

Green holds Storm tip session at Manly

Former Melbourne five-eighth Blake Green held a tip session with Manly teammates aimed at helping them in Saturday’s NRL clash.


Green faces his old club for the first time since switching to the Sea Eagles after playing a pivotal role in Melbourne’s grand final appearance last year.

“I had a chat yesterday actually to a few of the members of our team after training, just to give them a heads up on what’s coming,” Green said on Wednesday.

“I’ve got a fair idea of how they’re going to play, especially on the back of a loss, they’ll be quite determined to carry the ball strong, complete their sets and kick well.”

But while the seasoned playmaker is willing to divulge as many secrets as he can from his two years at the club, he just isn’t sure how much of an advantage it will be on game day.

Melbourne went undefeated over the opening five rounds before falling short against Cronulla in a grand final re-match last week.

But they could get big names Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich back on deck this week.

“I think everyone in the competition is well aware of what they’re going to do and how they’re going to play, but being able to stop it is a different thing,” Green said.

“They’ve obviously got some really classy players in there, the ‘big three’ as everyone refers to. Along with Jesse Bromwich, they’re a pretty handy outfit. It’s going to be a tough job for us.”

Green also said he was shocked by former halves partner Cooper Cronk’s decision to announce his intention to leave Melbourne at the end of the year and move to Sydney.

He is adamant he couldn’t imagine the Australian halfback playing for another club, but was unsure whether he would retire, either.

“I’m not sure what he’s got planned. He could do anything. I don’t think anyone knows what he’s going to do. I don’t know if he’s made his mind up on anything,” he said.

Sean Spicer apologises for ‘insensitive’ Hitler remark

Spicer suggested Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people, momentarily forgetting the Holocaust and prompting renewed calls for his resignation.


During a White House briefing Spicer sought to intensify criticism of Bashar al-Assad, painting the Syrian leader’s suspected use of sarin nerve agent against civilians last week as historically evil.

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said, comparing Assad unfavorably.

His comments — during the Jewish festival of Passover, prompted anti-defamation groups and Democrats to call for the already embattled press secretary’s resignation.

Watch: Sean Spicer White House Media Conference Gaffe

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Spicer later took to CNN to apologise for the comments.

“Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive comment about the Holocaust and there is no comparison,” 

“For that I apologise. It was a mistake to do that.”

Top Congressional Democrat Nancy Pelosi is calling for Spicer’s resignation.

“Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements,” said 

“Either he is speaking for the President, or the President should have known better than to hire him.”

Spicer — the most public face of the Donald Trump’s administration after the president himself — has is a frequent target of ire and satirists for his angry denunciations press coverage and sometimes loose grasp of the facts.


He was pilloried for his first appearance in the press briefing room in January, when he browbeat journalists and falsely insisted Trump had the biggest inaugural audience ever.

He later caused an international incident by claiming British signals intelligence agency GCHQ helped former president Barack Obama spy on Trump.

Furious British spies described the claim as “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous,” forcing Spicer to explain his comments to the British ambassador.

But his latest claim brought anger from across the political spectrum and looks of astonishment from the assembled White House press corps, who offered Spicer a chance to clarify.

“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said, returning to the subject.

As journalists shouted “what about the Holocaust?” Spicer continued, “I think there is clearly… I understand the point, thank you, thank you I appreciate that.”

Hitler “brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent — into the middle of towns, it was brought… so the use of it, I appreciate the clarification, that was not the intent.”

Steven Goldstein, head of the Anne Frank Center, described Spicer’s comments as an “evil slur” and said he now “lacks the integrity to serve.”

In a further written clarification, Spicer said he was “in no way… trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust.”

“I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable,” he said.

Related reading

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis later offered a hint at what Spicer may have meant, saying that “even in World War II, chemical weapons were not used on battlefields. 

“Since World War I, there has been an international convention on this.”

Richard Price, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo told AFP Hitler  in fact came very close to using chemical weapons on civilian areas.

“Hitler used gas widely in the concentration camps, but they never used them against soldiers nor against cities,” he said.

“Albert Speer, munitions minister, said that during the trials of Nuremberg that Hitler gave the order to use them in the last months of the war, but his generals refused, because they knew the war was over, there was no point.”

Syria briefing 

Tuesday incident was not the first time this week that Spicer has found himself in rhetorical difficulty over Syria.

On Monday, he suggested that Trump could take military action if Assad were to drop more barrel bombs — a regular occurrence in Syria’s brutal war and a red line that would almost immediately be breeched, making US military action all but certain.

The White House privately walked back his comments.

Later in Tuesday’s briefing, Spicer also raised eyebrows when he declared Iran a failed state.

Trump’s pared-back approach to staffing has resulted in many of the apparatus around Spicer from being removed.

There are around half the number of National Security Council’s communications staff, whose job is — in part — to brief the press secretary on international developments.

The State Department does not have a spokesperson and has stopped holding daily briefings, which often serve as an early warning system for the White House about questions and issues headed their way.

More newsWATCH: No place for Assad in Syria, Tillerson says

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Brazil’s president charged with corruption

Brazil’s top federal prosecutor has charged President Michel Temer with accepting bribes, the first of what is expected to be a series of formal graft charges against the deeply unpopular leader in the coming weeks.


Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot delivered the charges to the Supreme Court on Monday, marking a stinging blow to Temer and the first time the public prosecutor has presented charges against a sitting Brazilian president.

Under Brazilian law, the lower house of Congress must now vote on whether to allow the tribunal to try the conservative leader, who replaced impeached leftist President Dilma Rousseff just last year.

Lawmakers within Temer’s coalition are confident they have the votes to block the two-third majority required to proceed with a trial. But they warn that support may wane if congressmen are forced to vote several times to protect Temer – whose popularity is languishing in single-digits – from trial.

Temer’s office and his lawyer, Antonio Mariz, did not respond to requests for comment. Temer has repeatedly said he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Temer was charged in connection with a graft scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Executives said in plea-bargain testimony the president took nearly $US5 million ($A6.6 million) in bribes for resolving tax matters, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters.

Joesley Batista, one of the brothers who control JBS, recorded a conversation with Temer in which the president appears to condone bribing a potential witness. Batista also accused Temer and aides of negotiating millions of dollars in illegal donations for his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).

For more than three years, investigators in Brazil have uncovered stunning levels of corruption enveloping the political class and business elites. Much of it centred on companies paying billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and executives at state-run enterprises for lucrative contracts.

Temer and one-third of his cabinet, as well as four former presidents and dozens of lawmakers are under investigation or already charged in the schemes.

Donald Trump wins cut-down travel ban victory after Supreme Court decision

US President Donald Trump praised the Supreme Court’s decision to review the legality of his temporary ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees, and to allow it to be partly implemented in the meantime.


“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

“Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland.”


Very grateful for the 9-O decision from the U. S. Supreme Court. We must keep America SAFE!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017

The Supreme Court earlier announced it would allow a cut down version of Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries take effect before the justices will hear full arguments in October.

In the meantime, the court said that Trump’s ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced as long if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

Opponents say the ban was an unlawful based on visitors’ Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before October 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

Three of the court’s conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

The court’s opinion explained the kinds of relationships people from the six countries must demonstrate to obtain a US visa.

“For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the court said.

“For people who want to come to the United States to work or study, the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, not for the purpose of evading the travel ban.”

The opinion faulted the two federal appeals courts that had blocked the travel policy for going too far to limit Trump’s authority over immigration.

The president announced the travel ban a week after he took office in January and revised it in March after setbacks in court.

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination.



SA sites to proceed in nuke dump selection

Two proposed sites in South Australia for a low-level radioactive waste dump will proceed to the next phase of assessment, the federal government says.


The government has accepted the nominations of land at two sites near Kimba, on Eyre Peninsula, and one at Lyndhurst, in SA’s mid-north. under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan says the decision to progress the Kimba sites was made after considering direct representations, the results of an independent postal ballot and submissions during a 90-day consultation process.

“Progression to phase two does not constitute a final decision, rather, we now know that across the community there is broad support for continuing this conversation, and that is what we will do,” the minister said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Canavan said phase two in regard to the Kimba sites would engage people with all views allowing the local community to have another chance to express their opinions on the suitability of both locations.

In-depth consultation and technical assessments of the Kimba sites would also be undertaken along with allocation of a $2 million community benefit package to fund local projects.

A site at Wallerberdina Station near Lyndhurst, in South Australia’s mid-north, has also progressed to phase two.

At Wallerberdina Station, a process including a heritage assessment, technical studies and community consultation is continuing.

The federal government’s decision in relation to the Kimba sites has disappointed a local group opposed to the location of a nuclear waste dump.

They said the community ballot revealed only 57 per cent support, well below the 65 per cent previously cited as evidence of broad approval.

“Minister Canavan has repeatedly promised that he will not impose this facility on a community that doesn’t want it,” the group said in a statement.

“Yet has progressed nominations in Kimba where it is proven that 42 per cent of us do not.

“It is impossible to find words to properly describe how utterly disappointed we are.”

Mr Canavan said radioactive waste produced from nuclear medicine was currently stored in more than 100 locations around the country.

“International best practice is that it be consolidated into a single, safe and national facility,” he said.

Cricket helping beat the waiting game blues for asylum seekers

As most clubs hang up the pads for winter, the All Nations Cricket team is just getting started.


Operating year round, the majority of the team’s players are in Australia currently seeking asylum.

Founder of the program Abdul Razzaq said each player has a tale of hardship, but united in cricket, they don’t face it alone.

“We are here together in one unit. Whatever their culture, whatever their religion, we are together like a family.”

Cricket tournament participants, among them, the All Nations Cricket teamSBS

Abdul Razzaq started the team with Monash Health and Cricket Victoria in 2015, and continues to run it voluntarily.

An asylum seeker from Pakistan, Mr Razzaq wanted to create a space and an opportunity to socialise for new arrivals at risk of depression, as they wait for answers on asylum applications.

“All those asylum seekers who are like me, I know it’s a big anxiety and stress like if you don’t have work rights or Medicare, and especially if you lose your income support.”

He said the cricket club can be the only inroad to the wider Australian community for many of the players.

Cricket Victoria multicultural participation coordinator Hussain Hanif, said a sport like cricket is uniquely placed to help bridge a cultural gap for many asylum seekers in Australia.

“I think it is integration at the end of the day, creating those inclusive spaces where all of us can integrate and use sport as a vehicle.”

Playing indoor cricket tournamentSBS

The All Nations Cricket program runs throughout the winter, when social isolation and depression for asylum seekers can be at its worst.

The group trains indoors during the colder months, with 60-80 players getting involved.

Community development co-ordinator at Monash Health, Rob Koch said while training and competition provides a bit of fun, it’s much more than just a game for the participants.

“It’s giving them the opportunity to do something they do know, they can play cricket. It’s allowing them to shine when everything else seems to be dark.”

Mr Koch said the All Nations Cricket club also helps to direct players into mainstream local clubs.

“Some of the fellows come in to our program and then get signed up for a local club and move through the ranks to get to even turf one.”

In the summer, the group trains near the Dandenong train station in Melbourne’s east to attract new members as they walk past.

Mr Razzaq said while the program is free, the benefits of participation can be priceless.

“Please come out. You can be the best in the community you can be a role model. So please come out and make a difference. Don’t give up, give back.”

China rejects US criticism over Nobel laureate’s treatment

The US embassy in Beijing joined a growing chorus of Chinese human rights lawyers and activists demanding Liu’s unconditional release amid concerns about his wellbeing.


With three years left to serve in his 11-year sentence, the 61-year-old democracy campaigner was granted medical parole days after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on May 23, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

The US embassy said Tuesday it was “working to gather more information” about Liu’s legal and medical status after authorities confirmed his transfer from prison to a hospital in northeast China.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife Ms Liu Xia out of house arrest,” spokeswoman Mary Beth Polley told AFP.

Related reading

Liu Xia, a poet, has been under house arrest since 2010, when her husband won the Nobel prize. She suffered a heart attack in 2014, when she was also diagnosed with depression, a rights group said at the time.

Su Yutong, a Chinese activist exiled in Germany, shared a video on Twitter showing Liu Xia sobbing during a video call with a friend and saying her husband “can’t have surgery, can’t do chemotherapy”.

Friends of the couple told AFP that Liu Xia has been allowed to visit him at the hospital.

China should “provide them the protection and freedom such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing to which they are entitled under the Chinese constitution and legal system and international commitments,” Polley said.

But China’s foreign ministry hit back, saying “no country has the right to interfere and make irresponsible remarks on Chinese internal affairs”.

“China is a rule-of-law country, where everybody is equal in front of the law. Any other country should respect China’s judicial sovereignty, and shouldn’t use individual cases to interfere,” spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing after being asked about the US statement.

US-based Dui Hua Foundation rights group said a person granted medical parole in China was not “free or released” — they would be “supervised by local public security bureaus”.

Under Chinese law, it said, medical parole lasts six months after which the person’s condition is assessed. Depending on the result, parole can be extended or the person sent back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

‘Sentenced him to death’ 

Hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists and friends signed a petition calling on authorities to give Liu “complete freedom” and allow his wife to “have contact with the outside world”.

They also demanded Liu be allowed to choose where he receives medical treatment and for authorities to carry out a “thorough investigation” into the circumstances that led to the deterioration of his health.

Wu’er Kaixi and Wang Dan, former student leaders at the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests who now live overseas, also posted a joint statement on Twitter saying China had “deliberately sentenced him to death”.

Prison authorities said Monday Liu was being treated by “eight renowned Chinese oncologists” at China Medical University No 1 Hospital in the northeast city of Shenyang.

But international human rights groups and supporters demanded that Liu be granted the best medical care in China or abroad and criticised his treatment.

Citing two other cases of critics who died in detention, Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson said the government “needs to be held to account for permitting yet another peaceful critic to fall gravely ill while unjustly detained.”

History of arrests 

The writer was sentenced in 2009 for “subversion” after spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms. 

He was awarded the Nobel prize while in jail a year later and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.

Liu is one of only three people to have won the Nobel award while jailed by their own government.

China strongly condemned the prize as foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a petition posted online that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China’s one-party Communist system.

Liu is also known for his efforts to help negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military bloodily suppressed six weeks of protests in the heart of Beijing.

Srebrenica massacre: Dutch government partially liable, court finds

“The court finds that the Dutch state acted unlawfully,” judge Gepke Dulek said in an hour-long ruling, which largely upheld a 2014 ruling by a lower court.


“The conclusion is that the Dutchbat (Dutch peacekeepers) knew that during the evacuations by the Bosnian Serbs to separate the Muslim men and boys there was a real risk they could face inhumane treatment or execution,” she said.

The Dutch soldiers had also facilitated the separation of the men and the boys among the refugees, she added.

Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the 1995 genocide, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.

It occurred on July 13, 1995 when lightly armed Dutch UN peacekeepers were overrun by Bosnian Serb forces as they sought to protect tens of thousands of refugees who had flooded to their base in what was meant to be a UN safe haven.

Both the Dutch state and the relatives of victims had appealed the 2014 Dutch lower court ruling that the state was liable for the deaths of some 350 men who were sent off the base along with other refugees.

Tuesday’s ruling also found that the Dutch state is liable for some 30 percent of any damages awarded, as it was uncertain whether the men would have survived had they stayed inside the compound. 

The Srebrenica killings have been denounced as an act of genocide by the UN court set up in The Hague to try those behind the atrocities of the Balkans wars.

And in the Netherlands the events still stir controversy, with questions remaining over the Dutch blue helmets’ role.

Late Monday, a lawyer for 206 former Dutch peacekeepers said they were suing the government for damages for sending them to defend Srebrenica, after the defence minister last year admitted it had been a “mission impossible.”

“As from tomorrow (Tuesday), 206 of my clients are claiming compensation of 22,000 euros each,” their lawyer told Dutch late night talk show Jinek on Monday.

Total damages would amount to around 4.5 million euros.

The Dutch troops, entrenched in their base, had taken in thousands of refugees from the enclave.

But overwhelmed they first shut the gates to new arrivals, and then allowed the Bosnian Serbs to evacuate the refugees. The men and boys were separated and taken in buses to their deaths.

Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert last year admitted the battalion had been sent to Bosnia “without adequate preparation… without the proper means, with little information, to protect a peace that no longer existed.”

“It was an unrealistic mission, in impossible circumstances,” she said.

One Nation campaign T-shirts ‘made in Bangladesh’

The loud orange supporter T-shirts of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party are made in Bangladesh, according to The New Daily.



It’s a key policy of the party to support local workers.

“We should not force industry and employment to go offshore,” One Nation’s website reads. 

“We desire a return to Australian ownership of land, resources, public utilities and businesses. The assets and resources of Australia must be the property of the Australian people.” 

Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union’s Michele O’Neil told the publication the T-shirts, which sell for $25 each, were “an extraordinarily bad call”.

“There are skilled workers making quality political T-shirts in Australia. And as a party that claims to be based on ordinary working people’s lives, it shows the hypocrisy of that claim,” she said.

“All it says is you can trust Pauline Hanson to not support local workers and to promote her party on the backs of exploited workers in a third-world country.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry is one of the biggest exporters in the world, the International Labour Organization says.

Yet the organisation records show the minimum wage for an entry-level garment worker is about 34 cents per hour or US $52 per month.

Only about 10 per cent of Bangladesh’s 4,500 garment factories have registered unions, and the country’s labor laws require 30 per cent of workers in a factory to agree to forming a union before one can be founded, according to Human Rights Watch. 

SBS World News has contacted One Nation for comment. 

0:00 One Nation is garnering Labor votes Share One Nation is garnering Labor votes


Census 2016: ‘No religion’ submissions rise as Christianity slides

More Australians are losing their religion, and for many home ownership is just a dream.


But that’s only part of the picture from last year’s census.

The first batch of data, published on Tuesday, showed Australians are getting older, more are living alone and there’s a growing number of same-sex couples.

The country’s population has doubled to an estimated 24.4 million in 50 years, with nearly two million people added since the last census in 2011.

0:00 Census numbers finally out Share Census numbers finally out

The changing face of migration shifts from Europe to Asia

Australia now has a higher proportion of migrants than the United States and Britain and, for the first time, more are moving here from Asia than Europe.

The figures showed nearly half of the population were either born overseas or their parents were.

And of the more than six million born elsewhere, almost 20 per cent have arrived since 2012.

England and New Zealand are still the most common countries of birth after Australia but a growing number are born in China and India.

0:00 Census reveals Australia more diverse Share Census reveals Australia more diverse

Growth in Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism 

The number of Australians speaking only English at home fell from almost 77 per cent to nearly 73 per cent in five years, although more than 300 different languages are spoken in households.

Meanwhile, about one-third of Australians said they don’t have a religion – more than two million more than in 2011.

More are turning away from Christianity but there’s been a growth in Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism.

0:00 The changing face of modern Australia Share The changing face of modern Australia

An ageing population: 1 in 6 aged over 65

Overall, Australia’s population is getting older.

While your average Aussie is 38, one in six are over 65.

More than two-thirds live in capital cities – which are growing nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country, mostly thanks to migrants.

Sydney is still the largest city, boasting 4.8 million residents – up nearly 10 per cent in five years.

It comes as little surprise, then, that the number of people who have paid off their mortgage has dropped as house prices surge.

Just 31 per cent of Australians own their home outright, down from 32.1 per cent in 2011 and from 40 per cent a quarter of a century ago.

But the proportion of people who are paying off a mortgage is relatively steady at 34 per cent.

The data shows a shift towards renting, with nearly 31 per cent now paying a landlord, up from just under 30 per cent five years ago and 27 per cent in 1991.

Median rents have increased 17.5 per cent since 2011, but those with a mortgage have seen their repayments fall by an average $45 a month.

ABS insists data can be trusted 

Despite the census’ website crash, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ chief statistician, David Kalisch insists the data is high quality.

However, privacy concerns did take a toll, with some people giving fake names and withholding their date of birth.

There was also a sharp drop in the number of respondents allowing authorities to keep their data archived for 99 years.

The census had a response rate of 95 per cent, 1.5 per cent lower than in 2011, and 63 per cent completed it online.

Mr Kalisch said an independent panel concluded that the data could be used with confidence.

“Census data provides a detailed, accurate and fascinating picture of Australia, which will be used to inform critical policy, planning and service delivery decisions for our communities over the coming years,” he said.

Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo’s cancer beyond surgery: wife

Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.


In December 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in promoting human rights in China, which responded by freezing diplomatic ties with Norway. They normalized ties in December last year.

Liu is being treated in a hospital in the northern city of Shenyang for late-stage liver cancer, having been granted medical parole, his lawyer told Reuters on Monday.

A video of Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, crying and talking about her husband’s condition was shared online late on Monday.

“(They) cannot perform surgery, cannot perform radiotherapy, cannot perform chemotherapy,” Liu Xia said in the video. She did not elaborate. It was not clear when the video was filmed.

A source close to the family confirmed the authenticity of the video and said Liu was being treated using targeted therapy.

“They say his cancer has already spread too far for other treatments, but because we cannot meet the doctors treating him, we have no way to tell if this is true,” he said.

Liu and his wife wanted to return to Beijing for treatment but the authorities rejected their request, the source said.

The prison bureau of Liaoning province said on Monday that Liu was being treated by eight “well-known tumor experts”, but Western politicians and rights activists have voiced concern about the quality of treatment.

The United States called for his release.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr. Liu, but also to allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia, out of house arrest,” said Mary Beth Polley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said.

China should “provide them the protections and freedoms, such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing, to which they are entitled under China’s constitution and legal system, and international commitments”, Polley said.

‘No country has right to gesticulate’

Liu was in serious condition but his life was not in immediate danger, said researcher at Amnesty International Patrick Poon, citing several sources.

His wife was taking care of him in hospital, he added, but it is unclear when she learned about his disease, which was diagnosed in late May, or how long she had been by his side.

“While Liu Xiaobo is on medical parole, it doesn’t mean he is entirely free and he is still subject to various restrictions,” Poon said.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, called in a statement on Monday for President Donald Trump to seek Liu’s “immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, responding to a question about Liu, said the issue was an internal affair.

“We have said many times that no country has the right to gesticulate about China’s internal affairs,” Lu told a regular briefing.

Asked whether China would consider allowing Liu to go abroad for treatment, Lu said: “All other countries should respect China’s judicial independence and sovereignty and should not use any so-called individual case to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

Wang Qiaoling, the activist wife of rights lawyers Li Heping, likened Liu’s case to that of her husband and dozens of other lawyers detained in Beijing’s most recent clampdown on dissent, who say they suffer illnesses due to mistreatment.

Wang said some of those detained in the crackdown, which began on July 9, 2015, had “met with high blood pressure”.

“We suspect Mr Liu Xiaobo ‘met with liver cancer’, and call for an independent third-party medical organization to be involved,” she said on Twitter.

China has in the past acknowledged problems of mistreatment in the criminal justice system and has repeatedly vowed to crack down to address them.

In Hong Kong, about 70 supporters of Liu took to the streets to demand his immediate release, chanting slogans denouncing the Chinese government as a “murderer”.

The protesters, including prominent democracy activists Martin Lee and Joshua Wong, gathered outside Beijing’s main representative office in Hong Kong, the Central Liaison Office, and plastered pictures of Liu on its gates and held up banners.

“We should not be indifferent toward such blatant unfairness,” Wong said of Liu’s plight.

Australia’s ‘staggering’ education divide



* Children in most advantaged areas achieve on average double the score in reading, writing and numeracy tests

* Compared to the most advantaged areas, children in the 50 areas at greatest educational disadvantage are, on average:

– Half as likely to be enrolled in preschool at age four;

– Half as likely to attend preschool for 15 hours or more;

– Seven times more likely to be vulnerable on two or more developmental domains in first year of schooling

* Non-attendance rates are nearly five times a high, at 22 per cent

* Nearly half of young people in areas of greatest need are neither learning nor earning


* All in very remote regions, spanning the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia

* Very low rates of preschool participation and attendance levels reaching prescribed 15 hours each week

* Very high rates of developmental vulnerability and school non-attendance

* Low achievement in NAPLAN testing

* Areas have a very dominant indigenous population

* Also pockets of disadvantage on fringes of state capital cities


* Majority in affluent Sydney suburbs, plus some in Melbourne

* Much lower levels of disadvantage across education spectrum:

– Higher engagement in preschool

– Very low proportions of children in first year of schooling showing signs of developmental vulnerabilities

– High achievement in NAPLAN testing

– Very high school attendance rates

– High youth engagement and low overall unemployment

* Number of the areas also house Australia’s elite independent schools and boarding houses


* Child from low socio-economic background up to three times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable by the time starts primary school.


* Indigenous child 40 per cent less likely to finish high school and 60 per cent less likely to go to university compared with a non-indigenous child.

* Child born in remote Australia only a third as likely to go to university as child born in a major city.

* Division particularly noticeable in the NT, Queensland and WA, where gap between children living in the least and most disadvantaged areas is the widest.

* Schools in areas of greatest educational disadvantage receive income of $24,100 per student, compared to an average of $16,400 for top 50 areas.

* Huge gulf in access to internet away from school between lowest and highest ranked areas.

Source: Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report on education inequality in Australia.