Senior federal government minister Marise Payne concedes the Liberals have a “very serious” problem with the number of women in parliament.
Less than a quarter of federal Liberal MPs are women, compared to almost 50 per cent of Labor politicians.
Liberal frontbencher Sussan Ley believes her party should consider adopting quotas to address the pitifully low percentage.
“If you look at our party, the picture tells its own story,” Ms Ley said.
While stopping short of explicitly endorsing the proposal, which the party has long opposed, Senator Payne bemoaned having to cast her mind back a long way to recall a rosier time for Liberal women.
“I think that we do have a very serious issue concerning the role of women in the parliamentary process and also in efforts to engage more across the community,” the foreign minister said on Friday.
“We did a very good job in 1996 … in the election of the Howard government to ensure we had a very broadly representative team facing the community.
“We’ve proven we can do it, I know that we can do it again.”
Ms Ley admits she is no fan of quotas, but wondered whether the party should consider them.
“We don’t have enough women. The issue has to start long before you get to parliament.”
However, Victorian Liberal Leader Matthew Guy is confident there are no such issues in his state.
“I’ve got plenty of women – I think it’s nine of 13 marginal seat candidates are women – I’ve said I want to get more women into parliament, and I do. After this election, I hope I will,” he told reporters.
“We’ve had a 50:50 system in our branch networks, in our electorate council networks, in our administrative committee since 1944.”
The gender imbalance has bubbled alongside claims from Liberal MP Julia Banks and Senator Lucy Gichuhi that they were bullied and harassed by male colleagues during last month’s bitter leadership coup.
The behaviour forced Ms Banks to resign from parliament.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said it was unacceptable senior Liberal Party figures responded by telling Ms Banks to “toughen up”.
He also took aim at Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly for telling her to “roll with the punches”.
“It was a particularly bad choice of words,” Mr Pyne said.
“What we all need to do is be a lot more caring of each other … people need to grow up.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists the Liberal Party has the right structures in place to deal with bullying, and rejected claims Ms Banks mistreated her 2016 campaign staff.
Joseph Manu says getting dropped for last year’s NRL finals series was the best thing for him.After being the Sydney Roosters’ hard luck story of last year’s NRL finals, rising star Joseph Manu is ready to make up for lost time.
The New Zealand native comes into Saturday’s qualifying final against Cronulla in blockbusting form, leading Roosters coach Trent Robinson to declare he has come of age.
Last week the bulldozing centre terrorised Parramatta defenders in the Tri-Colours’ 44-10 win to clinch the minor premiership, carving out 179 metres as well as scoring a first-half try.
The week prior he nearly pulled off one of the tries of the year when he barrelled over three Brisbane defenders before agonisingly being denied by a desperate Darius Boyd cover tackle which forced him to tread on the sideline.
But wind back the clock 12 months ago and Manu was relegated to reserve grade on the eve of September, denying him his first taste of NRL finals football.
Despite playing in the side’s final round win over the Gold Coast, he was overlooked in favour of Ryan Matterson for the club’s finals series.
“I feel like I’ve grown,” Manu said.
“Last year getting dropped was tough but I’ve think it was the best thing for me.
“Just learning a few things that I had to do. This year has been a big year for me and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.”
Robinson praised Manu following last week’s win over the Eels and he was earlier in the year rewarded with a contract extension until the end of the 2020 season.
Manu has been a grand final specialist coming through the grades at the Roosters – winning titles with their SG Ball and under-20s sides.
Next year there will be heated competition for spots in the Roosters backline with English veteran Ryan Hall and Brett Morris replacing Parramatta-bound Blake Ferguson.
Robinson will have the difficult task of fitting six first-class players – also including James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou – into five spots.
Manu said he hadn’t considered his place in the team next season but felt like he’d grown as a player this year.
“I feel like I’m a bit more confident there and calling the ball and playing outside awesome players has helped me out for the whole season,” Manu said.
“It’s been a long season and I’ve improved a lot. I’ve still got a lot to improve in my game.”
The construction union is calling for safety inspections of dozens of cranes across Victorian worksites following the death of a man in Melbourne’s east.
The 46-year-old died after he and a co-worker were submerged in concrete which fell from a crane at a Box Hill construction site on Thursday afternoon.
The other man, 28, remains in the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition.
The CFMEU’s Gerard Ayers has called for the operator of the crane, Clark Cranes, to suspend the operation of between 80 and 100 cranes at Victorian worksites until they are audited.
“We’re calling for a thorough, comprehensive inspection to make sure all of those Clark Cranes are operating to their manufacturers’ specifications before they recommence work,” Dr Ayers told AAP on Friday.
‘We hear this all the time … that there are mechanical issues with different cranes.
“We suspect that this crane might also have some mechanical faults that are also recorded in the log book.”
The CFMEU says Clark Cranes was also involved in a crane collapse at Richmond in July.
Clark Cranes declined to comment when contacted by AAP.
The mother of the 46-year-old worker killed on Thursday was “extremely traumatised,” Dr Ayers told reporters. The man was not married and did not have children.
The union says he’s the seventh person to have died on a Victorian construction site this year.
“We cannot continue the way we are; we have to take a deep breath, slow down and look at how we are doing the work,” Dr Ayers said.
A third man suffered minor injuries in Thursday’s incident, while counselling has been organised for workers who were at the site and those nearby who rushed to assist.
WorkSafe investigators were at the scene on Friday investigating the crane and other work systems.
“Cranes are complex, so there is a lot of careful work required to determine the cause of this tragic incident,” acting health and safety executive director Paul Fowler said.
In a separate incident on Thursday, a woman in her 40s died after being run over by a prime mover loaded with an excavator at Donvale.
There have been 18 workplace fatalities in the state this year, WorkSafe says.
Queensland’s sentencing laws must be rewritten to ensure criminals like the man who killed toddler Mason Jet Lee get what they deserve, a child protection advocate says.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston is appalled by the nine-year sentence handed to Mason’s stepfather, who beat the 22-month-old so severely his organs ruptured.
The Caboolture toddler was left in agony for days as he slowly died, with William Andrew O’Sullivan doing nothing to help the boy.
The manslaughter sentence handed down by Chief Justice Catherine Holmes on August 30, which could not be reported until Thursday due to suppression orders, could see O’Sullivan walk free in four years with time already served.
“I think the justice system is not really the justice system – it’s the legal system and what we want is some justice for these kids,” Ms Johnston told reporters on Friday.
She said there was little point in the government appealing O’Sullivan’s sentence because judges’ hands were tied.
“I say throw (the system) out and start again. Otherwise, we’re just tinkering at the edges,” Ms Johnston said.
She said the community should not blame the courts and it was the framework judges must work within that was broken.
“What (the attorney-general) needs to do is rewrite the legislation, put some standard minimum sentences in place,” she said.
The state opposition’s deputy leader, Tim Mander, agrees.
“To think that this man could be out in the streets in four years time is unbelievable,” he said.
“We are calling on the attorney-general to make an immediate appeal so that a sentence can be given that will meet community expectations.”
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has three weeks to appeal the sentence.
“As with all cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions are looking at the judgment and will advise the attorney-general whether there are any prospects for appeal,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
O’Sullivan, 37, was also convicted of child cruelty after failing to seek medical care when the boy suffered a broken leg and severe anal injuries about six months before he was killed in June 2016.
Mason’s final hours were spent wrapped in a towel, lips blue, making grunting noises. After he died traces of methamphetamine were found in his blood.
O’Sullivan, who had long battled an addiction to drugs, particularly ice, tried to cover up his involvement in Mason’s death by blaming paramedics for responding slowly when they had taken only six minutes to arrive after being called by a friend.
He also lied to police by saying he found Mason with his lips blue and mouth clamped on a bottle before calling an ambulance and later claimed his 12-year-old “serial killer” daughter may have beaten him.
Since being in custody, O’Sullivan has been bashed unconscious by another inmate.
Dustin Martin showed his class in Richmond’s Qualifying Final win over Hawthorn.Milestone man Dustin Martin was gang-tackled, double-teamed, tagged and provoked but none of it was enough to stop him from stealing the stage as Richmond steamrolled Hawthorn in Thursday night’s AFL qualifying final.
Martin was a clear best-afield in his 200th game as the Tigers stormed to a 13.17 (95) to 9.10 (64) victory at a near-capacity MCG.
The reigning Brownlow Medallist racked up 29 possessions (17 contested), 10 clearances and five inside-50s despite close attention from Hawthorn tagger Daniel Howe, who came in as a late replacement for Ryan Schoenmakers.
But it was Martin’s astonishing goal late in the second quarter that will live on in Richmond folklore and add to an already extensive highlight reel.
Hurtling towards the boundary at full speed, Martin received a handball and found the composure to kick a drop punt from the tightest of angles, sending Tigers fans into raptures.
Minutes later, Martin sent an audacious handball through the legs of his defender to Dion Prestia, who set up Kamdyn McIntosh to extend the Tigers’ lead.
Both acts reflected Martin’s ability to effectively perform in a shoebox.
Howe’s close tag meant Martin rarely had space to burst out of packs, while the Hawks also made a point of double-teaming him to prevent his signature fend-off.
Howe and the rest of Hawthorn’s midfielders also niggled Martin at every opportunity in an attempt to provoke him into losing his cool.
None of it worked. The tattooed dynamo remained unflappable throughout and the Tigers made the most of his efforts with a dominant second half.
Martin has struggled at times to replicate his incredible 2017 but as Tigers coach Damien Hardwick forecast in the lead-up to the match, he will be extremely tough to stop in September.
“He’s certainly primed,” Hardwick said.
“The season he had last year – I’ve never seen a better season.
“Can you live up to that? Well, it’s going to be tough.
“But once again he’s playing the consistent brand of footy we know and love and he’s incredibly damaging because of it.”
‘Biggest bitch’ poll outrages school community TweetFacebookMercuryon Thursday, a spokesperson stated “any event that has been organised by students or parents has been done without the authority, knowledge or approval of the school.
“The school first became aware of a formal event and survey late yesterday afternoon. The school addressed the Year 10 cohort at an assembly this morning about the inappropriateness of the survey and how it contravenes the school’s values.”
In an online post, a person claiming to be the formal awards organiser, wrotethe awardswere“a joke and not meant to be taken seriously”.
She saidshe had already taken down some award nominations when requested to do so.
“I only put in awards that people asked me to and if you were to get an award that could be “offensive”, I would message you and ask you if you were okay with getting it,” the organiser posted.
But “outraged” parents didn’t see the funny side.
One parent told the Mercury she felt sick when her daughter told her about the awards.
“With all the bullying that leads to suicide, which is in the media lately, it is sickening to know this is happening,” the parent who wished to remain anonymous, said.
“These awards are absolutely disgusting. They need to be removed as a matter of urgency.
“Apparently there are a lot of kids who were worried they would receive one, some were even not going to attend the formal.”
A Warilla HS spokesperson said the school was “deeply disappointed in the actions of students who have organised the event and created the highly inappropriate online survey”.
“We will continue to investigate fully to determine those students responsible and have the offensive survey removed online.
“Any students found to have been involved will be counselled and disciplined according to the school’s disciplinary policy.
“Warilla High School prides itself on its values education agenda of Excellence, Respect, Integrity and Compassion (E.R.I.C) and this event and survey is contrary to the many programs the school has to combat bullying and what it has put in place to support students’ mental health needs.”
Matt Toomua is relishing the chance to start for the Wallabies against South Africa in Brisbane.Matt Toomua is hoping to give Michael Cheika a glimpse into an alternate future for the Wallabies when he makes his return to the starting Test side on Saturday.
Bernard Foley had been assumed to be ‘s only real option at five-eighth ahead of next year’s World Cup, simply because there were no other compelling candidates.
But Cheika’s decision to dump Foley to the bench for the first time during his reign as coach has set the cat amongst the pigeons.
Kurtley Beale will start in the No.10 jersey instead against South Africa in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship clash at Suncorp Stadium, with Toomua next to him at inside centre.
Toomua had come off the bench for brief cameos in ‘s two heavy Bledisloe Cup defeats last month, having made himself eligible for selection again by signing a deal to join the Melbourne Rebels next year.
The 28-year-old said a starting jersey was what he had come back to n rugby for, and warned he wouldn’t be giving it up easily.
And if the remodelled playmaking axis sparks the Wallabies back into form, it could quite conceivably become the new normal.
“It’s very much a chance for Kurtley and myself as a combination to provide a different picture than what’s been in the past,” Toomua said.
“We’ll see how it works out – I’m obviously hoping that it goes really well.
“Bernard and Kurtley have done some amazing things in the n jersey recently and at provincial level as well.
“It’s now my turn to have a crack, basically.
“If we do really well it provides another option and the powers that be will choose what’s the go long term.”
Cheika said he wanted to shake the team up by dropping Foley but said he hadn’t done it “for the sake of it”, suggesting he wants a good, close look at Beale and Toomua working in tandem.
They have played together before for the Wallabies, having filled the same roles under Ewan McKenzie in 2014.
But Toomua is hopeful they will be even better now, having spent the last two years refining his own game with Leicester in the English Premiership.
“Hopefully I’ve matured and grown,” he said.
“(After) two years of footy up there … a different style, learning to problem-solve a lot over there in different conditions and competitions against different teams – I’d like to think that’s added a few things, mentally especially, in terms of how to play.”
Concerns over Donald Trump have topped a ranking of Germans’ biggest fears.Concern over the policies of US President Donald Trump has shot to the top of an annual ranking of Germans’ biggest fears, easily outstripping worries about refugees and terrorism, a survey shows.
The “Fears of the Germans” survey from R+V Versicherung showed that 69 per cent are worried that Trump is making the world a more dangerous place with his policies, which have included withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accord.
That compared to 63 per cent who expressed fear that Germany risked being overwhelmed by refugees and 59 per cent who listed terrorism as a top concern, down sharply from 71 per cent last year.
“Trump’s brutal ‘America First’ stance, his hostility to international agreements and his aggressive trade and security policies, including towards allies, are frightening a majority of the population,” said Manfred Schmidt, a political scientist in Heidelberg who advises R+V on the survey.
“Trump’s attacks on Germany are having a growing impact on sentiment,” he added, referring to the president’s frequent verbal assaults on Germany’s trade surplus and relatively low levels of defence spending.
Among other concerns in the survey, 57 per cent of Germans expressed fear about political extremism and 56 per cent said they were worried about natural catastrophes.
The survey of roughly 2400 Germans was conducted in June and July, before far-right protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz following the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by two migrants, drew worldwide attention.
Terrorism had topped the fears ranking in the previous two years. In the five years prior to that, the top concern had been the cost of the euro crisis for German taxpayers.
Four nations backed Britain after it identified two Russians as suspects in a nerve agent attack.Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the US have pledged to work to disrupt “the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks” and called on Russia to disclose its nerve agent programme.
In a joint statement, France, Germany, Canada and the US say they back Britain’s assessment that Russian officers were behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter using Novichok after London charged two Russians in absentia.
“We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level,” Thursday’s statement said.
It added that the countries urged Russia to provide “full disclosure of its Novichok programme”.
“Yesterday’s announcement further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies.”
Earlier Britain’s security minister called out Russian President Vladimir Putin over the nerve agent attack targeting Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and also warned that the UK would counter Russian “malign activity” with both public and covert measures.
The Kremlin rejected accusations that Putin is ultimately responsible for poisoning the former spy in England, and said Russia is not going to investigate the suspects.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalised for weeks in a critical condition after they were exposed to Novichok in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.
They are now recovering in a secret location for their own protection.
Local woman Dawn Sturgess died and her boyfriend Charlie Rowley was sickened after they came across remnants of the poison in a discarded perfume bottle in June.
Rocking the suburbs: How units and townhouses are changing the face of Newcastle TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald analysis of council datashows the number of dual-occupancy development applications, where a single house is demolished and replaced by two townhouses or villas, has exploded in the past two years.
DAs for these developments in Newcastle numbered 55 in 2012-13, then 73, 74 and 86 in the subsequent three years before rising sharply to 182 in 2016-17 and 161 in 2017-18.
It is a similar story in Lake Macquarie, where approvals in a range of medium- and high-density development categories ballooned from 106 in 2013-14 to 225 in 2017-18.The annual dollar value of these developments grew 324 per cent over those five years, from $45 million to $191 million.
In Newcastle, new support for units and townhouses and the rush to cash in on rising land values have contributed tototal annual investment in higher-density building leaping from $174 million in 2014-15 to $613 million last financial year.
This rise in higher-density development projectsmirrors the “in-fill” strategy central to the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, akeystate government planning document.
A draft of this plan issued last year said the Lower Hunter’s population should rise from 540,000 to 700,000 by 2036 and that four urban growth corridors should radiateout from the Newcastle city centre.
These corridors coverlarge parts of Adamstown, Broadmeadow, Merewether, Mayfield, Lambton, New Lambton and Mayfield.
The metro strategy suggests councils should amend planning rules so these suburbs assume the population density of Cooks Hill, an inner-city area with a mix ofterraced, detached and semi-detached houses and low-rise apartment blocks.
The projected population rise in the Newcastle local government area, from 165,000 to 198,000, equatesto a target of 16,800 new dwellings, the vast majority of them, 14,300, as in-filldevelopments in existing urban areas.
In Lake Macquarie, 8900 of 13,700 new dwellings are ordained to be in-fill development.
The push for higher densities is designed to make the most of existing infrastructure,such as roads and schools,and cut down on the type of urban sprawl that has turned Sydney into a traffic, transport and politicalminefield.
But that strategy often comes ata cost for people in established residential areas which have not traditionally accommodated apartment complexes and other forms of medium- and high-density housing.
The Herald reported this week that the developer behind the 84-unit Foundry complex in Adamstownhad taken the council to the Land and Environment Court over its deemed refusal of the proposal, which exceeds height and floor-space-ratio limits for the area.
The apartment buildings, which would replace six houses on Brunker Road and Date Street, attracted more than 70 objections typical of this kind of development, includingconcernsabout height, parking, privacy, overshadowing and a range of other issues.
Sueand Wayne Morris livein Date Street, two doors down from the proposed units, which they see as a gross overdevelopment of the site.
Sue and Wayne Morris outside their house in Date Street, Adamstown.
Ms Morris said the tension between developers and nearby residents would be a story played out across Newcastle as property owners took advantage of the government’s density strategy.
“We knew something was going to get built there, but there is no way that we expected 84 units on six blocks of land,” she said.“It’s too tall. It’s actually eight storeys in Date Street.
“I can’t be too harsh on Newcastle City Council because they’re in court fighting on our behalf. They didn’t just rubber-stamp it.”
Ms Morris agreed with the concept of increasing population density but said governments had to ensure infrastructure kept up with the pace of in-fill development.
“You’ve only got to look at the Adamstown gates, which is an absolute joke,” she said. “We laugh about it, but it’s not funnythat a 70-year-old problem is still there.”
The Herald’s data analysis shows that Merewether, a relatively large suburb with high land values, was the most populararea for dual occupancy applications in 2017-18 with 23.
Fletcher, one of the few greenfield suburbs in the Newcastle local government area, was next with 22, followed by New Lambton (13), Mayfield (12) and Wallsend (10).
The number of DAs for larger multi-unit developments peaked at 169 in 2015-16, and many of these are now under construction or completed.
The total dipped to 83 in 2017-18, but these proposals still amount to768 new dwellings in the Newcastle LGA.And, despite the high profile of big apartment redevelopments in the CBD, the bulk of these proposed units will be built in the suburbs.
Judy Prestonlives in Merewether Street, Merewether, where workers are putting the finishing touches on the37-unit Oceans Reach development on the corner of Llewellyn Street.
The retired Dulux colour consultant grew up in a house in Llewellyn Street andbelieves the four-storey apartment complex is an overdevelopment of the site, even though she is decorating one of the units for a friend who is moving in.
She knows three women from the local Probus club who have bought apartments in the building.
Ms Preston said she appreciatedthe arguments for increasing population densitiesbut did not like to see her neighbourhood change.
“I never thought it was meant for this sort of thing, really,” she said. “I just think there’s never going to be parking out the front here. There’s no parking now.
“Growing up here and seeing it like a community, I probably don’t like the change. I just don’t think that was the place to have that type of development.”
Another significant factor driving a rise in population density is the growing popularity of granny flats, largely fuelled by Sydney investors.
Backyard Grannys director Mark Neumann estimated that the industry was building 300 granny flats,which often do not require development approval,each year in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
His company is adding a new staff member every month to keep up with demand.
“People that we know –friends, family, ourselves –are doing this because it’s a good way of making extra income,” he said.
“And there’s a lack of affordable housing out there for people at that $350 a week for a two-bedroom place to live.”
Sydney investors are behind about half the granny flats being built in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, says businessman Mark Neumann.
Mr Neumann said only about one in five granny flats were built for homeowners’ elderly parents, although this ratio was growing.
“It’s about 80 per cent investors and 20 per cent for mum or dad in the back yard.”
A recent project his firm had completed at Cardiff was typical.The owner had paid $560,000 for the three-bedroom propertyand spent about $130,000 to builda granny flat. They had rented out the house for $420 and the granny flat for $370.
“The numbers stack up for an investor.A lot are from Sydney, 50 per cent. Sydney prices, to buy a cheap investment property out at Penrith, you’re still going to need $700,00, $800,000.
“Most are mum and dad investors and they’ve got a life coach or a business coach and they’re reading magazines. They’re not guys who are going out and buying 30 or 40.”
Mr Neumann said the granny-flat investors were playing a part in driving up house prices.
“If it’s got a big back yard and it’s accessible, those prices have gone crazy.”
Newcastle Greens councillor John Mackenzie, who is a supporter of increasing population densities, said it was a challengeto balance the interests of residents, developers andthe environment withurban planning objectives.
“Not everyone’s a winner in this. That’s the balancing act,” he said.
“There are 32 apartments going in in my street in Tighes Hill.It’s been hellish, and the parking situation around school time is going to be absurd. But at least for that area that was what was intended.
“You can domesticate those proposals to an extent.There’s no one size fits all.That’s the key thing at that upper level of planning aboutwhere do we want that high density? What’s the areas that can accommodate it in terms of traffic flows, availability of schools, access to transport?
“Densifying is something you want to work towards because it minimises all your greenfield development in areas you’d rather see kept as bushland.”
Lake Macquarie City Council’s manager of integrated planning,Wes Hain, said the council had a strong focus on increasing housing choice as part of its Lake Mac 2050 Strategy, which is on public exhibition.
The city’s population is expected to grow by more than 23 per cent by 2050 to 250,000, and the number of dwellings will increase over the same period from 82,595 to an estimated 112,400.
“We are already planning for more diverse housing to meet this need, particularly in and near our town and local centres,” Mr Hain said.
“Council encourages medium-density development in town centres as the higher population concentration contributes to the development of better services in those areas: improved public transport, a more vibrant day and night economy, more jobs, and more health and essential services.
“It also caters for people who prefer to live in lower-maintenance dwellings, with good access to services and entertainment and lifestyle options.”
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the council was “delighted to see continued strong development across Newcastle”.
“City of Newcastle has facilitated the growth in DAs through sensible, clear planning that has identified growth corridors such as Adamstown,” she said.
“We encourage development that is consistent with the city’s development control plan and which ensures that legitimate concerns of affected residents are addressed.”