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News: Catholic Church investigates, slams leaking Senator

Senator Nick Xenophon

Catholic Church slams Senator, clears Priest

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon used parliamentary privilege in September to circumvent the law and name the Catholic priest, Monsignor Ian Dempsey, at the centre of a sexual abuse allegation. The allegation came from Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth who claimed he had been abused by Mr Dempsey decades previously. It was not an allegation of child abuse. But a three month investigation by the Catholic Church found there was no ‘undue delay’ in its investigation and cleared Monsignor Dempsey. Xenophon called the investigation a ‘joke’ because Mr Hepworth was not interviewed.

Schoolies: is there a better way?

It’s not the end of the world like some would have you believe, but there’s no denying a few school-leavers go overboard every year. That’s to say nothing of the unavoidable tragedies like the one that befell Jake Flannery who was electrocuted by a pole that had become ‘live’ after a fault. But psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has said more generally booze is not the school-leaver’s best friend and congratulated some (private) schools who had a ‘drink and don’t graduate’ rule. And what about alternatives to the week-long adventures, typically on the Gold Coast in Queensland, that Schoolies set out on? Dr Carr-Gregg says schools should give students incentives to do other things, like travel or meet up in quieter locations with smaller groups of friends. Do you remember your Schoolies? Did you go? What about your kids, if you have them?

JK Rowling

Celebrities on record against News International, reveal deals

Singer Charlotte Church waived a $160,000 fee to sing at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding in exchange for ‘favourable coverage’ when she was 13. She said the strategy failed and they had since gone on to be some of the ‘worst offenders’ in reporting her stardom. In one instance a clock on The Sun’s website was counting down to her ‘legal’ age of 16, a reference to when the singer would be able to have sex. Other celebrities have taken to the stand at the Leveson Inquiry. JK Rowling told of opening her five-year-old daughter’s school bag to find a note from a reporter inside. Sienna Miller told of being spat at by paparazzi to provoke a reaction they could film. There were those ‘everyday’ citizens affected too, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler who spoke of the agony of thinking their daughter was alive due to checked phone messages, later finding out her phone had been hacked.

Qantas takes $200m hit from dispute

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The Flying Kangaroo has revealed a $194 million hit to its bottom line for the first half of the 2011/12 financial year. The figure was comprised of $27 million in lost forward bookings, $29 million in ‘customer recovery’ costs and $70 million from the global fleet grounding. A further $68 million was cut from the profit in the lead up to the fleet grounding due to delays and flight cancellations. But CEO Alan Joyce said it would have been more had he not grounded the airline and put a (temporary at least) halt to industrial action from the airline and the unions.

Treasurer Wayne Swan

Europe troubles wipe $20b from Oz revenue, budget cuts follow

Today’s the day Treasurer Wayne Swan takes the razor to the Australian budget (technically the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook) as an increasingly unsteady Europe forces $20 billion to be wiped from Australian revenue over the next four years. The cuts will follow because the Government is still pledging to maintain a budget surplus in 2013. According to news.com: “He will endorse a swag of relatively small spending reductions such changes to a living-away-from-home allowances for foreign business executives working in Australia, and the slashing of a bonus scheme for top performing teachers.”

UPDATE: Some of the cuts include slicing $400 from the Baby Bonus on September 1, 2010 (down from $5400), finding $700m plus in savings by tightening the Living Away From Home Allowance for foreign executives living in Australia and increasing some Visa charges for non-residents coming to Australia, which will save about $613 million. The aim is for a $1.5 billion surplus in 2013.

Murray-Darling water plan pleases no-one

The graziers and farmers say it’s too much and the environmentalists say it isn’t enough. That’s the long and short of the latest draft water management plan released by the Federal Government yesterday. The plan proposes to cut short water usage from the system by 2750 gigalitres per year – not the 3000 – 4000 wanted by environmentalists. This will come into effect over seven years, but will it be enough to preserve and sustain freshwater ecosystems in the basin and surrounding areas? Issues with the Murray-Darling include silt and detritus clogging up the river, including at the mouth, due to diminished flows over the years. This draft plan is an attempt to reverse some of that damage. The Opposition says those communities affected in dollar terms and livelihoods deserve a greater analysis of the effects.

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