Monday, December 18, 2017

Catholic Church dismisses child abuse reforms

The Catholic Church has dismissed recommendations designed to prevent further child sexual abuse by priests and members of religious orders. In its final report delivered on Friday, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended the church break the confessional seal of confidentiality on matters of child sex abuse, and make the vow of celibacy voluntary for religious practitioners. Melbourne archbishop Denis Hart and Sydney archbishop Anthony Fisher quickly refused to consider the recommendations, with Fisher saying that compelling priests to report child sex abuse they hear in confession to police “would be a real hurt to all Catholics”. In a statement, the Holy See said the final report “deserves to be studied seriously”, but made no indication on specific recommendations. Survivors of abuse in the Victorian city of Ballarat reacted angrily after parishioners of St Patrick’s Cathedral cut hundreds of ribbons, symbolising those affected by child abuse, off the church’s fence after the report was released.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will unveil the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook today, confirming that Australia’s gross national debt has fallen by $23 billion since the May forward estimates. Morrison is expected to outline government plans to cap the number of annual university places to recover a further $2 billion a year from the university sector, against the warnings of Universities Australia. The Greens have called on the government to include a 4 per cent pay rise for junior public servants in the MYEFO, with Greens treasury spokesperson Peter Whish-Wilson saying the raise would act as a “circuit breaker” to counteract Australia’s “growing wages gap”.

Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has stood aside for a month after being accused of sexual harassment and indecent assault by a female council staff. Councillor Tessa Sullivan resigned on Friday, with the council saying “herself and other women had experienced repeated sexual harassment which had made their workplace intolerable”. City of Melbourne chief executive Ben Rimmer said he had “commissioned an independent external investigation” into claims of “sexual harassment, indecent assault and misconduct” against Doyle, including groping Sullivan’s breast and making explicit comments. In a statement, Doyle said he found “ the allegations detailed to me by media outlets thoroughly abhorrent”, saying he would “co-operate fully to clear my name”.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association has struck a secret pay deal with supermarket giant Woolworths that hides workers’ pay rates from public scrutiny. Fairfax reports that workers in so-called “dark stores”, distribution centres to handle online orders, are being paid up to $3000 a year less than employees doing similar work in regular Woolworths stores. Details of the deal were revealed from emails between Woolworths executives and Fair Work Commission officials that were obtained by journalists and activists from the rival trade union, the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.

And Liberal John Alexander has been returned to Parliament after winning the Bennelong byelection. While former Labor NSW Premier Kristina Keneally achieved a swing of more than 5 per cent, it was not enough to overcome Alexander’s 9.7 per cent margin. Both parties spun the result as a victory, with Alexander telling a visibly relieved Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that it was “a renaissance of your leadership”. Manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, said “it would have been a very special sort of Armageddon if [Alexander had] lost the seat” on Saturday, pointing to the swing to Keneally as evidence Labor was on track to win the next election.

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The doctor at the time said, ‘You have eligibility for a disabled sticker’. I said, ‘I still have some pride’.

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Will women in low-wage jobs get their #MeToo moment?

“As male harassers and assaulters have been unmasked over the last few months, the reckoning has largely been confined to the realm of the white-collar worker, particularly in industries with big names familiar to the public. While the social stigma against reporting harassment may fall away in some sectors of the economy, women with less social capital have yet to see the names of their harassers – or even simply reports of widespread patterns of harassment in their industries – splashed across front pages.” fivethirtyeight

The weaponisation of awkwardness

“Harvey Weinstein, on the tape recorded by the model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez as part of a New York Police Department sting operation, told her, ‘Don’t embarrass me in the hotel’. And: ‘Honey, don’t have a fight with me in the hallway’. And: ‘Please, you’re making a big scene here. Please’. So many of the other men accused of predation, it has now become painfully clear, have in their own ways used those soft but crushing social pressures as weapons, both in moments of abuse and beyond: Don’t be dramatic. Don’t make a scene. Please.”  the atlantic

Inside Chinas vast new experiment in social ranking

“If you live in the United States, you are by now accustomed to relinquishing your data to corporations. Credit card companies know when you run up bar tabs or buy sex toys ... But Alipay knows all of these things about its users and more. Owned by Ant Financial, an affiliate of the massive Alibaba corporation, Alipay is sometimes called a super app. Its main competitor, WeChat, belongs to the social and gaming giant Tencent. Alipay and WeChat are less like individual apps than entire ecosystems.” wired



Besides having a Melbourne swimming pool named after him, what’s Harold Holt’s most enduring legacy?

“It was a quintessential Australian death. On 17 December 1967, Australia’s 17th prime minister, Harold Edward Holt, waded into the churning surf at Victoria’s Cheviot Beach, defying a swift current and a strong under-tow that left others in his party refusing to enter. Within minutes Holt was swept up and out, ‘like a leaf … so quick, so final’, and never seen again. For the thousands lining the Mornington Peninsula beaches in the early summer heat that Sunday afternoon, the day would be remembered for its surreal mix of the everyday and the remarkable.”   guardian australia


Half a million dead Indonesians, mainly.

“Truckloads of soldiers rumble through the dimly lit streets of Jakarta. They haul six army generals out of their homes, killing the three who put up a fight, executing the others back at a camp in a rubber plantation. The Indonesian Army blamed the incident on the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI, and set off a purge that killed up to a million PKI supporters. ... Then Australian prime minister Harold Holt declared: ‘with 500,000 to one million Communist sympathisers knocked off, I think it is safe to assume a reorientation has taken place’.”  abc (from 2015)


and finally:

Please enjoy this soothing musical tribute to the humble bin chicken

“It’s been a rough week for your local ibides. They were robbed in Australia’s Bird of the Year competition, coming second to the unworthy magpie. That, and they continue to be defamed and vilified on the streets of Sydney, but that’s every week I guess. Now, though, they can kick back in their dumpsters and rest easy knowing that Sydney acappella band Songtourage has done them justice in the beautiful, if weirdly-titled ditty, ‘Song For My Daughter (Who Is An Ibis)’.” junkee

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor, and a former editor of Junkee.