Workers at closing Hazelwood mine to move to AGL plant

About 150 Victorian coal workers will be made redundant and their jobs given to retrenched staff from the nearby Hazelwood coal mine, under a deal between the state government and power company AGL.

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AGL will take the Hazelwood workers at its Loy Yang A coal mine and power plant, once voluntary redundancies are taken up by its staff.

Victoria will pay up to $20 million to ensure the redundancies go ahead and workers are hired from Hazelwood, which is due to close on March 31.

“This is a fantastic outcome, it is the first of its kind anywhere in our nation,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in Morwell on Friday.

The redundancies will be offered over the next year, and the premier expects AGL workers close to retirement will be most likely to take them up.

“It will take some time to create the vacancies but we’ve come to an agreement to do just that. No one will be forced to leave their current job,” Mr Andrews said.

There are plans to expand the scheme to Energy Australia’s Yallourn plant, and Engie’s Loy Yang B, potentially opening up positions for more workers and contractors.

Mr Andrews said both companies had given in principle support for the move, but details were being worked out.

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AGL executive general manager Doug Jackson said the company was proud to support the Morwell community as Hazelwood closed.

“It’s an opportunity that recognises the skills and experience of a very experienced workforce,” Mr Jackson told reporters.

French energy giant Engie announced in November it would close the Hazelwood coal mine and power station, putting hundreds of people out of work.

The impending closure has helped drive up power prices around the nation, as retailers prepare to lose one of Australia’s largest baseload generators from the National Energy Market.

Watch Insight episode on the closing of the power station:

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Firebirds burn the Swifts in Super Netball

There was no revenge for the NSW Swifts in the grand final rematch as the Queensland Firebirds eased to a 62-53 win in Brisbane.

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A seven-goal surge in the second quarter gave the hosts a 28-21 lead, which the Swifts chased in vain for the rest of the match.

The Firebirds’ Jamaican goal shooter Romelda Aiken led the way shooting 44 from 56 and was well assisted by Gretel Tippet (18 from 23), who also had a game-leading nine turnovers.

The Swifts’ own Caribbean sharp shooter, Sam Wallace of Trinidad, made 48 from 55 shots at the other end.

The Firebirds won their second straight ANZ Championship title last July with a double overtime victory over the Swifts, though only seven players from the 2016 grand final were in action at the sold-out Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Both teams came into the fourth-round fixture with a win and a draw to their name but the Firebirds now move to second on the ladder ahead of the Sunshine Coast, who play unbeaten leaders the Giants on Saturday night.

Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson said her team did what was asked by coach Roselee Jencke when the game was there for the taking early in the final quarter.

“She told us to lift,” Simpson said.

“She said: ‘Let’s take it a step up and make sure we lift the intensity in the first five minutes.'”

The champions did just that scoring the next four goals.

Swifts wing attack Paige Hadley bemoaned the lack of experience her side showed during the most crucial period of the game.

“The nine goals is obviously frustrating because it definitely didn’t reflect the type of game but in the end they converted every turnover they got,” Hadley said.

“We’re young and that lack of experience showed at the end there.”

Swiss police hunt gunmen who killed two in Basel cafe

No details were released on the suspects or victims, and prosecutors said the motive for the attack – in a small cafe in a residential neighourhood – was not known.

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“Two men came into Cafe 56” around 8.15 pm local time (1915 GMT) “and fired several rounds,” said police in the picturesque city on the Rhine river in northwestern Switzerland.

“Two customers were killed. Another is in a critical condition”, they said in a statement. 

The assailants escaped and headed in the direction of a city railway station after the attack.

“The reason behind the attack is not yet known and will be investigated,” the Basel prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

One neighbourhood resident said the cafe “was previously an establishment known for its links to the drug world.”

“But since the owner changed several years ago it became an ordinary cafe,” the resident told local newspaper Basler Zeitung.

The road next to the cafe was cordoned off and traffic redirected.

An AFP photographer at the scene saw police dressed in white forensic garb collecting evidence at the site early Friday.

A bullet hole was visible in one of the windows of the cafe.

Gun crime is infrequent in Switzerland, even though the country has one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world. 

Citizens are allowed to keep their army-issue weapons at home outside periods of mandatory military service.

This right has been controversial as sometimes weapons are used at home in domestic incidents.

The number of weapons held at home is believed to be two million for a population of eight million, according to Swiss press.

In January, a man clad in military clothing shot and injured two police officers as they searched his home in northeast Switzerland for a suspected cannabis plantation.

The gunman fled but was eventually cornered and after a standoff lasting several hours, which included negotiations over the telephone, he shot and killed himself.

Police searching his home found gun publications.

Four dead in Kenya as tensions soar over disputed poll

The east African nation, keenly aware of post-poll violence a decade ago that left 1,100 dead, was on a knife-edge after a day of isolated protests in opposition strongholds.

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The unrest broke out after opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed massive fraud as Kenyatta surged ahead in provisional results, with 54 percent compared to his 44.7 percent. Results from over 96 percent of polling stations were in.

Two protesters were shot dead in the flashpoint slum of Mathare in Nairobi, where police also fired tear gas at crowds who burned tyres and blocked roads throughout the day.

An AFP photographer saw one of the victims, a young man with a massive gunshot wound to the head.

Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said the two who were killed had tried to “attack our officers with pangas (machetes) and that’s when the officers opened fire on them.”

In the southeastern Tana River region, police said five men armed with knives had attacked a vote tallying station and stabbed one person.

“Our officers killed two of them and we are looking for others who escaped,” said regional police chief Larry Kieng.

“We have not established the motive yet, we don’t know if it is political or if it’s a criminal incident but we are investigating and action will be taken.”

The region is prone to attacks by Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab militants.

RELATEDHacking attack denied

Decrying a “sham” tallying process, Odinga detailed accusations of a major attack on the electronic voting system, saying hackers had gained entry using the identity of top IT official Chris Msando, who was found tortured and murdered late last month.

“This is an attack on our democracy. The 2017 general election was a fraud,” said Odinga, claiming detailed evidence of the hackers’ movements.

The 72-year-old, who is making his fourth bid for the presidency as the flagbearer for the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, accused his rivals of stealing victory from him through rigging in 2007 and in 2013.

“You can only cheat a people for so long,” he said.

Election commission (IEBC) chief Ezra Chiloba denied that the crucial electronic system — seen as key to avoiding fraud — had been compromised.

“Our election management system is secure. There was no external or internal interference to the system at any point before, during or after the voting,” he told a press conference.

Odinga’s claims led to isolated protests in his stronghold in the western city of Kisumu as well as in slums in Nairobi.

Responding to the tensions, former US secretary of state John Kerry, an observer with the Carter Centre, expressed confidence in the electronic voting system and urged Kenyans “not to jump to conclusions”.

“It is also going to be critical to the leaders of Kenya to step up and lead in the next days to give people confidence that this process is being worked carefully, thoughtfully and respectfully.”

0:00 Kenyatta ahead as votes counted Share Kenyatta ahead as votes counted

Calls for calm

Aside from the alleged hacking, the opposition’s main complaint was that results streaming in electronically had yet to be backed up by a scanned copy of the results from constituencies.

Chiloba assured that these forms were coming in and that candidates’ teams were being given access to them. The IEBC has insisted the results on its public website should not be considered final until they have been cross-checked.

Raphael Tuju, secretary-general of Kenyatta’s Jubilee party, urged the opposition to “look at the figures soberly” and accept the results.

Odinga urged his supporters to “remain calm as we look deep into this matter”.

But he added: “I don’t control the people.”

The heads of nine international observer missions released a joint statement calling on parties and their supporters to remain calm, and turn to the courts with their grievances.

“We appeal to all citizens of Kenya to remain committed to peace and the integrity of the electoral process,” read the statement.

Dynastic rivalry

The contest between Odinga and Kenyatta was seen by pollsters as too close to call ahead of the vote.

It is the second time the two men have faced off in a presidential election, a dynastic rivalry that has lasted more than half a century since their fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga went from allies in the struggle for independence to bitter rivals.

Kenyatta, 55, is credited with overseeing steady economic growth of more than five percent. But food prices have soared under his watch, and several major corruption scandals broke out in his first term.

Shotputter Walsh won world title with groin tear

Walsh’s World Championships gold medal was the first ever for a man from New Zealand and the 25-year-old said he had been battling the groin injury when he threw 22.

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03 metres to clinch it on Monday.

“I’ve got a seven centimetre tear in my groin, and that pretty much means some time off from competing to rehab and repair,” Walsh told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

“I’ve got some training to do in the next wee while to test out if it’s any good or not, and we’ll go from there.”

The Rio Olympics bronze medallist suffered the injury in his final training session before he went out to top qualifying with a season best throw of 22.14m.

The Christchurch-based builder was limping noticeably after winning the title and said he would need a scan to determine the extent of the injury.

He had the scan in Britain on Wednesday and said he would now have to adjust his schedule as he sought a lucrative payday in the Diamond League.

“I’m meant to be doing five comps, but I will now not be able to do all five,” he added.

“My first competition may be touch and go for the Birmingham Diamond League on August 20 but I will definitely be able to compete in Zagreb (Aug. 29) and the Diamond League final in Brussels (Sept. 1).”

Walsh is second in the Diamond League on 14 points behind American Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, who leads on 24, with the overall winner of the series pocketing $50,000.

Walsh earned $60,000 by winning the world title and said any additional prize money would be a big factor in keeping him going throughout the year.

“There is a long time between drinks, so to speak,” he said.

“It is a costly business I’m in. I’m lucky that I get supported by the government pretty well and by Athletics NZ.

“It does make things slightly easier, but it’s also good to make a bit more money if I can as well.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

US slaps new sanctions on Venezuela

The measures were aimed at six members of the so-called Constituent Assembly — among them the brother of late president Hugo Chavez — as well as a military officer in charge of security for the body, and a board member of the national electoral authority.

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They added to previous US sanctions on Maduro himself — a rare step against a sitting head of state — imposed just before the assembly was elected on July 30 in a vote marred by violence, fraud allegations and an opposition boycott.

“President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“This regime’s disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy.”

The Venezuelan government reacted by saying the US was “making a fool of itself in front of the world.”

It “doesn’t respect any criterion, any basic principle of international law,” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told state television. “Venezuela can’t be sanctioned for anything, nor by anybody.”

The US announcement came as the Constituent Assembly and Venezuela’s supreme court took actions to limit the opposition’s ability to challenge Maduro.

The assembly has established a “truth commission” which Maduro has said should examine alleged crimes by opposition leaders — especially those in charge of the country’s legislature, which his Socialist Party lost control of two years ago. 

Sweeping powers

The assembly has also fired the attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who broke ranks to become an outspoken critic of the president.

The supreme court ordered the jailing of an opposition mayor who allowed anti-government protests in his Caracas district, and was mulling similar cases against others.

Ostensibly brought in to rewrite the constitution, the Constituent Assembly has sweeping powers to override all other branches of government. 

It has vowed to remain in operation for up to two years — beyond the scheduled end of Maduro’s term in 2019.

Those targeted in the US sanctions announced Wednesday included Adan Coromoto Chavez, the brother of the late president who was Maduro’s mentor before he died of cancer in 2013.

The National Electoral Council board member, Tania D’Amelio Cardiet, was designated for defending the assembly and for suspicion of being involved in fraud in its choosing.

The security official, Bladimir Humberto Lugo Armas, “has been involved in several acts of violence against National Assembly opposition members,” including against the body’s leader, Julio Borges, the US statement said.

The sanctions freeze the US assets of those targeted and ban American entities from doing business with them.

Battling isolation

Major Latin American nations and Canada have also rejected the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly and slammed Venezuela for “breaking democratic rule.” 

The UN rights office has condemned “excessive force” by Venezuelan security forces against protesters who objected to the Constituent Assembly and who are angry about an economic crisis that has made food and medicine scarce amid hyperinflation and a nosediving currency. 

Since the protests turned violent four months ago, nearly 130 people have died.

Protests against Maduro became muted in the past week, however, as the Constituent Assembly started sitting and intensified a clampdown.

The opposition coalition, while urging more demonstrations, has agreed to field candidates in overdue regional elections set for December 10. It said it did so to pressure Maduro to make sure they are held, and with an eye to winning most of Venezuela’s 23 states.

Although broadly criticized, Venezuela is not entirely isolated internationally.

It can count on the support of Russia and China — which have granted tens of billions of dollars in loans to Venezuela. 

On Tuesday, Caracas hosted a number of leftist allies, including Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well small Caribbean nations to which it gives cheap oil, in a meeting to show solidarity.

Maduro told the representatives he was open to regional dialogue — as long as Venezuela was “respected.”

The leader reaffirmed that the difficulties he was facing were driven by an “imperialist” United States that wanted Venezuela’s oil.

“Venezuela is the big prize, the jewel of the crown — that’s what they say in the corridors in Washington,” he said.

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Treasurer warns power companies over bills

The Turnbull government has vowed to take tough action if electricity retailers fail to give consumers greater control over their power bills.

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But the electricity companies say the best way to bring down prices is increasing supply, something that won’t happen until the government adopts a long-term policy.

The government is still considering whether to adopt the clean energy target recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

In the meantime, it’s taken several steps it hopes will cut household power bills in the short term, including hauling electricity retailers in to demand they give consumers better information about their power plans, especially when discounts expire.

“I don’t think the energy companies are in any doubt that should we wish to move here we have form,” Treasurer Scott Morrison told ABC radio on Thursday, alluding to measures the government imposed on the banking sector.

The treasurer says electricity retailers are not unlike the big banks on whom the government has imposed tougher consumer data, more stringent governance regulation including on senior executives, and a levy.

Energy Australia head Catherine Tanna called on the government to beef up its price comparison website, Energy Made Easy.

Retailers had made sure the government knew their position on the underlying cause of price rises, she said.

“Stable, long-term policy will drive down prices in the long term and we have to resolve this as a priority,” Ms Tanna told ABC radio.

“Prices have gone up because we haven’t had a stable, long-term energy policy and the market has not had the right signals to invest in new supply.”

While a clean energy target wasn’t necessarily her preferred option, “it’s the best answer we have of getting a clear plan for the future”.

AGL chief executive Andy Vesey supports a clean energy target, saying the reality is, increasing supply is the best way to bring down prices.

Labor says in requiring more and plain-language information on power bills, the government is “grasping the blindingly obvious” while ignoring bigger issues.

“We are very firmly of the view that this parliament cannot let the opportunity slip that was presented by the Finkel report,” energy spokesman Mark Butler said.

“We are in the throes of a deep energy crisis in this country and delivering an energy policy through the parliament that has the support of both major parties is critical to solving that.”

Banking, investments deliver in H1 for AMP

AMP’s first-half profit has dropped 15 per cent to $445 million but the financial services giant’s underlying performance has improved with earnings growth in its banking and investment divisions.

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The company has also continued turnaround work in its problematic wealth protection business, striking reinsurance deals that will release $500 million in capital from its life insurance arm to reduce earnings volatility and raise the possibility of a capital return.

AMP’s underlying profit for the six months to June 30 was up four per cent on the previous first-half at $533 million, driven by strong operating earnings and beating the market expectation of $529 million.

Ordinary activities revenue also grew, up 25 per cent to $7.6 billion.

The wealth management division posted a one per cent drop in earnings to $193 million as margins were crimped by customers shifting to lower-cost superannuation funds.

Operating earnings were up 11 per cent in the AMP Capital investment business as fee income lifted and 10 per cent in AMP Bank.

Chief executive Craig Meller said AMP had continued to drive growth in its banking operations and international expansion, with AMP now managing $10 billion for 252 international clients, up from 199 clients at the end of 2015/16.

“Overall, it’s a solid performance underpinned by strong cost management that steps us toward our strategy of transitioning to a higher-growth, capital-light business with a more internationally diverse revenue profile,” he said.

In February, the wealth manager booked a full-year loss of $344 million – its worst result in 13 years – on the back of a restructure in its wealth protection arm undertaken to counter a downturn in the income protection business in 2016.

On Thursday AMP said work to stabilise wealth protection had lifted the division’s earnings by 11 per cent.

Mr Meller said new reinsurance agreements, which are set to roll out in November, will mean 65 per cent of AMP’s retail life insurance portfolio will be reinsured for claims.

“The earnings in the wealth protection business will be much less volatile following this new reinsurance program being implemented,” Mr Meller said.

“We have effectively insured ourselves against a large portion of potential claims.”

Mr Meller said the deals will axe $30 million off AMP’s 2018 profit, as well as $5 million in 2017.

He said part of the $500 million released would be reinvested “to deliver a return, to make up that shortfall”.

“If we can’t find opportunities to do that then the course of action would be to switch the share buy back on,” he said.

AMP shares were down 2.9 per cent to $5.255 at 1224 AEST.

AMP’S RESULTS AT A GLANCE:

* Net profit down 15pct to $445 million

* Underlying profit up 4pct to $533 million

* Revenue up 25pct to $7.6 billion

* Interim dividend up 4pct to 14.5 cents, partially franked.

Cats coaches hail AFL champ Johnson

Steve Johnson’s premiership coaches agree; there will never be an AFL player like him.

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Both Chris Scott and Mark Thompson hailed the retiring AFL champion as a master of invention and one of the league’s wiliest players.

Johnson helped Geelong win the 2007, 2009 and 2011 flags in a decorated 253-game stint with the Cats.

The fan-favourite wasn’t offered a new deal by Scott at the end of 2015 and joined Greater Western Sydney for a two-season swansong.

But Scott, speaking after Johnson announced his retirement on Thursday, was adamant it didn’t change the amount of love from both him or the club.

“He’s one of our favourites,” Scott said.

“Over the history of the game, when you talk about players with wily tricks he’s certainly in the conversation around the best.

“Watching him recently, he’s not as good physically as he was in his prime but he might be a bit smarter than he was in his prime.

“It’s amazing when you are a little bit limited how much you need to rely on those wily little tricks.”

Thompson coached Johnson at Geelong from the forward’s 2002 debut until 2010.

“I love Stevie,” Thompson told Fox Sports’ AFL 360.

“I love people who could do things that other people couldn’t do and they did it on a regular occurrence.

“Stevie was certainly one of them.

“He could mess up as good as any of them, but he could play the best footy on the ground.”

Scott said he grew to understand the depth of love from the Cats faithful for the goalsneak.

“For all the people that loved him on-field, there’s probably just as much off-field love from those who like a little bit of a cunning streak in the personality,” he said.

Johnson sits third on the all-time Geelong goalkickers list (452), and 13th for games played.

Protesters spell out opposition to Adani

Protesters have used white twine and red umbrellas to form a human ‘Stop Adani’ sign outside Parliament House.

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More than 200 activists gathered to speak out against a possible $1 billion public loan for the Indian company’s Queensland coal mine.

“If this mine goes ahead it’s going to be the biggest mine in our history,” said Sarah Ellyard, a protester struggling to keep hold of a number of #StopAdani signs.

“It’s an area about five times the size of Sydney Harbour. It’s not compatible with a safe climate future.”

Labor senator Lisa Singh, a vocal critic of the mine, said government arguments about its economic benefits needed to challenged.

“It’s not just how we feel,” she said. “It’s the science and the economics that is important in this debate.”

Australia should be focused on renewables, especially with India reducing its coal imports in the near future.

“Because that is the future of our country and, indeed, the future of our planet,” Senator Singh said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he would be taking to task representatives from the North Australia Infrastructure Facility – under whom the $1 billion loan would be provided – when they appear at a Senate inquiry on Friday.

“We’re going to be doorknocking in marginal seats right across the country with you, making sure millions of Australians understand why this mine can’t go ahead,” he said.

“If we can’t stop this mine in the parliament we’re going to stop it by standing in front of those bulldozers and making sure this mine never gets built.”

Wandering around the event wearing a giant Malcolm Turnbull mask was protester Matthew Armstrong.

The reason activists were protesting was because of the power wielded by conservative elements in the government, he said.

“The only way we can counterbalance that power they have is through popular protest,” he said in a muffled voice.

Swans AFL coach not fussed by quiet Buddy

Sydney coach John Longmire isn’t concerned by the recent lack of impact from his star AFL forward Lance Franklin and has backed him to return to form.

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Franklin kicked only one goal in successive weeks against Hawthorn and Geelong and recorded his two lowest possession tallies of the campaign, notching just eight touches in last Friday’s win over Geelong.

“(Tom ) Lonergan played well on him last week, you can’t escape that, but we’re really confident that Lance will continue to play a strong part in the team,” Longmire said on Thursday.

“It’s not always about kicking goals for him. Certainly when there’s other players kicking goals, like there was last week, it helps spread the load.

“Sometimes when he’s kicking goals we can be accused of being too Franklin-centric and when he’s not kicking goals you can be accused of him not playing well.

“We were happy with our balance last week and we’re confident that he’ll be playing pretty good footy.”

Franklin leads Sydney’s goalkickers with 52, with the next best Tom Papley on 25.

Longmire was reluctant to be drawn on the future of former co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, who is coming off contract at the end of the season.

McVeigh, the most senior player on the Swans list with 295 games, had been tipped to retire at season’s end after playing just two of their first 13 games due to injuries.

However, the 32-year-old has been in outstanding form in recent weeks, marshalling Sydney’s backline.

Longmire said McVeigh’s manger Phil Mullen met Swans general manger Tom Harley last week and discussions had been ongoing for around 12 months.

“There’s no timeline or anything at the moment, other than just keep talking,” Longmire said.

“He has been very good the last couple of weeks and we’re really keen for that form to continue.”

Blood test boosts cancer screening hopes

Scientists have the first major evidence that blood tests called liquid biopsies hold promise for screening people for cancer.

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Hong Kong doctors have tried it for a type of head and neck cancer and boosted early detection and one measure of survival.

The tests detect DNA that tumours shed into the blood.

Some are used now to monitor cancer patients and many companies are trying to develop versions of these for screening, as possible alternatives to mammograms, colonoscopies and other such tests.

The new study shows this approach can work, at least for this one form of cancer and in a country where it’s common.

“This work is very exciting on the larger scale” because it gives a blueprint for how to make tests for other tumour types such as lung or breast, said Dr Dennis Lo, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He led the study, published on Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lo is best known for discovering that fetal DNA can be found in a mother’s blood, which launched a new era of non-invasive testing for pregnant women.

The study involved nasopharyngeal cancer, which forms at the top of the throat behind the nose.

It is a good test case for DNA screening because it is an aggressive cancer for which early detection matters a lot.

About 20,000 men were screened, and viral DNA was found in 1112, or 5.5 per cent.

Of those, 309 also had the DNA on confirmatory tests a month later.

After endoscope and MRI exams, 34 turned out to have cancer.

More cases were found at the earliest stage – 71 per cent versus only 20 per cent of a comparison group of men who had been treated for nasopharyngeal cancer during the previous five years.

‘Ordinary’ social media use can have extraordinary legal consequences

Yvonne* was having a quiet Friday night at home, scrolling her Snapchat feeds and mucking around with lenses when she decided to send a Snap of her breasts.

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Maybe she thought she’d get some Snapbacks, give her friends a laugh. What she got instead was a formal caution from police after being investigated for the NSW criminal offence of disseminating child abuse material.

In other words, because she was 14 when she shared a sexy selfie with her friends and followers online, Yvonne came close to being charged under child pornography laws.

Yvonne is the kind of teenager I see in high school classrooms and at youth services right around NSW: they’re smart, they’re tech-savvy, and they have more likes on Insta than I can dream of. But they don’t always realise that some of what they get up to on social media can have serious, lifelong consequences. Behaviour that some young people see as harmless flirting, or a normal part of dating, is viewed as something more serious under the law.

That’s why Legal Aid NSW designed a workshop that starts a conversation with young people on this topic. It’s not about trying to use scare tactics, or telling kids to stay offline. It is about arming them with the knowledge they need to make decisions that keep them safe and out of trouble.

What I’ve learned talking to teenagers about cyberbullying and sexting is that most young people, most of the time, are using social media safely and making respectful decisions about what they share online.

Many young people are not aware that any picture that shows a person under the age of 18 who is naked, or striking a sexy pose, is considered child pornography under Commonwealth criminal laws.

However, many young people are not aware that any picture that shows a person under the age of 18 who is naked, or striking a sexy pose, is considered child pornography under Commonwealth criminal laws. A similar picture that depicts a person under the age of 16 will be considered child abuse material under NSW laws. Because these laws are designed to protect children and teenagers, teenagers may not realise they restrict their behaviour, too – so a 17-year-old girl who sends a sexy picture of herself to her 17-year-old boyfriend is risking criminal penalties.

0:00 Students go through a role play to explore the grey areas of consent Share Students go through a role play to explore the grey areas of consent

As well as educating young people, Legal Aid NSW’s specialist Children’s Legal Service gives free legal advice to young people who do find themselves in trouble for taking, sending, keeping or sharing sexy images. Some of the situations in which we’ve given advice to young people involve young people taking and sending pictures to their partners. In these cases, we’re often told that the pictures were never intended to be seen by anyone outside the relationship. Other more troubling situations involve intimate pictures being shared without permission, or being used to bully a young person online.

At the most serious end of the spectrum, a person who has been charged and found guilty of these sorts of offences may find themselves being locked up or included on the Sex Offender Register. Being found guilty of a child pornography offence can have a real impact on a young person’s ability to get a job in the future, especially if they want to work with children themselves one day.

As a lawyer and a parent, I know I’d rather have a conversation with a young person in the classroom or in the living room, rather than down the phone line from a police station.

Those of us who work with young people have a real responsibility to help them understand some of the risks and be clear about what the law is. As a lawyer and a parent, I know I’d rather have a conversation with a young person in the classroom or in the living room, rather than down the phone line from a police station.

 

This week’s Insight looks at how people understand consent when it comes to sex and sexting | Consent – 8 August, 8.30pm SBS 

* Not her real name

Julianne Elliott is a Legal Aid NSW lawyer who specialises in educating young people about the law. Legal Aid NSW offers engaging workshops across NSW to help young people, teachers and youth workers come to grips with this area of law. You can request a workshop for your school or organisation.

If you need help with a legal question, call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529. Young people in NSW who need advice about a criminal law problem, or think they might be in trouble with the law, can call the Youth Hotline on 1800 101 810.