Monday, September 16, 2019

Calls to boycott disability inquiry

Disability advocates are calling for a boycott of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, which begins today. Craig Wallace, the convener of the Disability Royal Commission Action Group, is one of dozens of disability advocates urging that two of the seven commissioners, John Ryan and Barbara Bennett, stand down due to perceived conflict of interest. “They were both in charge of and managed systems where people with disabilities have experienced abuse,” he told the ABC. Ryan was a former senior public servant with the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services, and Bennett was the deputy secretary of the families and communities branch of the federal Department of Social Services. The Morrison government has defended the seven commissioners appointed, saying they represent a diverse range of backgrounds.

Business activism backed: A new survey finds the overwhelming majority of Australians disagree with the Morrison government’s argument that business should stay out of social and environmental advocacy. The Committee for Economic Development of Australia survey of 3000 people indicated that 78 per cent of the public support corporate leaders speaking out on issues, but 90 per cent thought firms only offer an opinion when it is in their own interest. Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week endorsed a speech delivered by his assistant minister Ben Morton ($) accusing big business of pandering to “noisy, highly orchestrated campaigns of elites typified by groups such as GetUp”. The Australian ($) reports that Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the government was right to “call that out” but should recognise business leaders are also advocating economic issues.

Flammable cladding cover-up: The New South Wales government last month sent an internal missive telling local councils to cite terrorism fears and the potential to affect property prices as reasons to keep the location of dangerous flammable cladding secret from the public, according to Guardian Australia. The state is undertaking a mass audit of building records to understand how widespread the use of flammable cladding is across the state. 

Drone strike to see oil spike: Oil prices are expected to rise in the wake of a drone attack on a Saudi Arabian oil refinery on Saturday. Iran has refuted US accusations that it was responsible for the attack, which has disrupted 5 per cent of the daily global oil supply. Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

In sport and the arts: The England men’s cricket team has defeated Australia by 135 runs in the fifth test of the Ashes. Although the result ties the series at 2-2, Australia retains the urn as the winner of the previous series in 2017-18. In netball, the New South Wales Swifts have won the Super Netball grand final, defeating hot favourite Sunshine Coast Lightning 64-47 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Sunday. Also celebrating at the weekend was comedian Hannah Gadsby, who beat fellow nominees including Beyonce and Adam Sandler to win the award for Best Writing (Variety Special) at the Creative Arts Emmys in Los Angeles, for her hit Netflix special Nanette

Inside the meat disco
When the impresario behind Earthcore died last year, he left behind a legacy of paranoia, intimidation and financial mismanagement.


“On December 5, 2017, Tanya Day made the decision to visit her youngest daughter, Kimberley, in Melbourne. Kimberley was very pregnant, about to be a first-time mother. Tanya wanted to be there for the prenatal appointments of her unborn grandson, whom she never got the chance to meet. About midday, Tanya took a bus from her home town of Echuca to Bendigo; she then boarded a V/Line train bound for Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station. But she never made it to the city.” 


“Anthony Albanese had a singular purpose when he addressed a gathering of the Labor caucus and staff in the opposition party room on Wednesday night: to remind his party that they still had things to fight for – and against. Leading a party with no policies, pending a post-election review, Albanese declared he had unilaterally adopted at least one. His office, said the opposition leader, was a ‘no dickheads’ zone.”


“We are speaking about music as a refuge from an upsetting world, and the womb-like sanctuary of the concert hall. She sometimes worries, in these warm, wooden arks of human goodness and beauty, that they might attract violence. But, although she recanted her faith at 13 and now describes herself as a Lutheran atheist – ‘because you can’t undo your upbringing, you know?’ – she has always known both the flaws held in the bosom of humans and the defiant solace of one of humanity’s best endeavours, the making of music.”


“Private schools have been hit by a drop in enrolments, forcing some to take on debt to compete for students, as parents squeezed by rising costs and sluggish wage growth opt for the public system. The proportion of children in government schools grew in 2017 and 2018, Census data shows, ending a run that stretches back to 1970 in which private schools increased their share of Australia’s student population.”


“Private schools are suing parents for not paying their school fees and in some cases expelling students mid-term to staunch a mounting debt. Schools around NSW ranging from high end boarding schools like Kincoppal-Rose Bay and Trinity Grammar to alternative Steiner schools and low-cost Catholic schools are taking parents to court to recover tens of thousands of dollars in fees.”


“Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess — or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis. Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters' stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.”


Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.