Comment: Governments will struggle to put Bitcoin under lock and key

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By Jonathan Levin, University of Oxford

The hearings in the US senate last week were the most high profile public discussions that have taken place on the subject of virtual currencies.


The US showed its openness by broadcasting the hearing, and it was watched by many Bitcoin enthusiasts around the world.

The discussion looked at the potential risks and opportunities Bitcoin and other virtual currencies pose for society, without going into any of the technical details. Senators made analogies with previous technologies and offered personal anecdotes, placing Bitcoin among inventions such as the internet and mobile phones.

Positive comments from senators, the judiciary and US financial authorities sent the price soaring to its highest price yet, reaching US$900 at one point. At the start of this year, a single coin cost less than US$15.


Bitcoin price and google trends indexed at 100 on 19/11/13. Google Trends, Bitstamp.


But the knowledge gap between legislators, law enforcement and Bitcoin developers is still vast. Coalitions of government agencies across borders are beginning to collaborate on addressing the gap. In 2012, the FBI founded the Virtual Currency Emerging Threats Working Group (VCET), which alongside the US department of justice and financial crime agency also collaborates with the UK’s National Crime Agency. However, at times these bodies seem to lack an understanding of the basic principles behind cryptographic currencies.

In coins we don’t trust

Bitcoin was conceived as a currency that did not require any trust between its users. As a result there is no room for a central authority able to resolve disputes and enforce laws.

Our traditional financial system has intermediaries that sit on top of the narrow supply of coins and notes in the economy, creating layers of credit services and other financial products. In these account-based systems, individuals trust these institutions – banks, building societies, pension funds, and so on – to keep their wealth safe. But, it is these same trust lines that also facilitate government tax collection and legal enforcement.

At the moment, Bitcoin’s equivalent financial intermediaries are the exchanges used to move money between digital and government-issued currencies. These centralised services use accounts to store users’ Bitcoin and government currencies and hence can be regulated like other forms of money transmission.

Since Bitcoin cannot be policed as effectively as normal money, most regulatory work is directed at exchanges. Enforcement within a peer-to-peer, distributed network is difficult. Take cash, for example. There is a reason why it is still the medium of exchange favoured by criminals across the world – without a centralised store and written records, it is harder for authorities to keep track. Likewise, in peer-to-peer file sharing networks, download portals and broadband providers are both subject to regulation and have the responsibility to manage content and user behaviour respectively.

If you’re not on the list…

This does not mean enforcement is not possible; there are considerable efforts to ensure self-regulation within the Bitcoin economy. One example is the suggestion that stolen coins should be blacklisted to prevent them from re-entering the money supply. As every Bitcoin transaction is publicly announced this is entirely feasible if the network could find a way of coming to consensus on whether the coins were actually stolen.

With the operational failures of so many exchanges and continued problems ensuring funds in online wallets are kept safe, this seems an attractive option to increase adoption of the currency. However, such moves inevitably come at the expense of true decentralisation and blacklisting is controversial among current Bitcoin users.

Without a greater appreciation of the technical details behind virtual currencies, regulation will still be limited to the exchanges that sit on top of the Bitcoin protocol. While they serve as the bottleneck between government currencies, the possibility of consumer protection or detection of illicit uses will elude the regulators.

Depending on existing legislation, countries will also vary in the ease by which they are able to adapt definitions of the currency and ownership. These details are absent from the current policy debate and actually mark the distinctive features and possible future uses of these promising currencies.

Jonathan Levin owns 0.39 bitcoin, which he uses for research.

Meagher family backs cop over death photo

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Jill Meagher’s family supports a veteran detective who has apologised for using a crime scene photo of the murdered woman in a public presentation.


Ms Meagher’s father told Homicide Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles he had nothing to apologise for after he showed a photo of her body in a shallow grave during a talk about his job at a cancer fundraising event in regional Victoria.

Even though Ms Meagher’s family supported his use of the photo, the incident prompted outrage on Thursday, including criticism from Victoria’s premier, who said he was “sickened” by it.

But Det Snr Sgt Iddles stressed that only one person out of more than 400 who attended the event last Friday complained about the photo.

“It’s been taken totally out of context. The people who should be alarmed by it are (Jill’s) parents and they’re not, they totally support me,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

He said Ms Meagher’s father told him he’d done nothing wrong, didn’t need to apologise and also had the full support of Ms Meagher’s widowed husband in using the photograph.

Ms Meagher was raped and murdered in September last year in a case that gripped Melbourne.

The respected detective, who played a key role in the high-profile investigation, said he’s surprised by the criticism because he’s given the presentation about half a dozen times – and always in a professional and compassionate manner.

“If I have offended you in any way, I totally apologise,” he said.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Stephen Fontana said using the photo was an unfortunate error of judgment, even though the family had no objections.

“It’s probably about us as an organisation, thinking about what is appropriate in terms of presentations,” he said.

But Bendigo councillor Mark Weragoda, who attended the event, said he supports the detective.

He said he was stunned by seeing the photo for a couple of seconds on a big screen, but feels the officer’s message about looking after each other has now been lost.

“I think this is a big overreaction,” he said.

His comments came after Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine said he was shocked to hear of the photo being shown.

“This sort of thing is just totally and utterly unacceptable,” he said.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said showing the photo wasn’t the right thing to do.

“Victoria Police saying sorry, the recognition that it was an error of judgment, hopefully that can be the end of it,” he said.

Police have now banned all further public presentations on operational matters until appropriate protocols have been developed.

Sex, drugs and alcohol: what really goes on at schoolies?

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By Amy Pennay, Monash University; Dan Lubman, Monash University, and Nic Droste, Deakin University

After finishing year 12, more than 50,000 young Australians attend schoolies celebrations, with most ending up on the Gold Coast.


Other schoolies (or “leavers”, as they’re known in Western Australia) head to the Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Victor Harbor (South Australia), Dunsborough and Rottnest Island (WA), and Lorne and Torquay (Victoria).

Schoolies marks the end of secondary school and new beginnings. For many young people it’s their first opportunity for a holiday with friends without supervision, and takes place as they are approaching legal drinking and driving age.

It also comes at a time when teens are experimenting with booze and other substances; harmful alcohol consumption and involvement in risky behaviour tends to peak around the age of 18.

Drug of choice

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance at schoolies – and past research shows young people are loading up.

A 2009 Victorian study involving interviews with 1,116 schoolies found that just under half reported typically consuming five or more drinks in a schoolies session. Participants reported consuming more alcohol at schoolies than they typically drink.

Interviews with 405 schoolies at Rottnest Island found that males consumed an average of 18 drinks and females consumed 13 drinks per day during schoolies.

Similarly, studies from the Gold Coast have found that more than half of 658 schoolies reported getting drunk in the previous 24 hours. Of 1,796 schoolies, more than half of males and nearly 40% of females reported getting drunk every night at schoolies.

There is also evidence of illicit drug use at schoolies. One Gold Coast study found that one-third (32%) of males and 17% of females interviewed at schoolies had used cannabis in the previous 24 hours, and 6% of males and 3% of females had used ecstasy.

A study of Rottenest Island Schoolies found that 20% of school leavers used illicit drugs at schoolies, with 15% using cannabis, 12% using ecstasy and 11% using amphetamine.

But Victorian research has found lower amounts, with just 11% of young people reporting cannabis use and 3% reporting use of cocaine, amphetamine and ecstasy during schoolies.


More than half of schoolies report drinking more than 11 standard drinks in a day. GabrielaP93


Of particular concern is the range of harmful behaviours that teens engage in at schoolies:

58% of young people reported blacking out

41% reported being injured

16% reported passing out drunk

10% reported being involved in a fight.

In addition, casual and unprotected sex among schoolies is common. Up to 60% of young men and 40% of young women report engage in casual sex at schoolies, with 20% of males and 30% of females reporting not using condoms on their last occasion.

Other studies have shown variation: 11% of young people in Victoria reported engaging in unprotected sex at schoolies and up to 45% of young women on the Gold Coast reported not using protection during sex at schoolies.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people attending schoolies on the Gold Coast and Rottnest Island appear to engage in more risk-taking behaviours than young people attending schoolies celebrations in Victoria.

Getting the complete picture

There are also some gaps in the research. Past studies haven’t included objective measures of alcohol consumption or intoxication (such as breath alcohol readings).

Nor have they gathered detailed information about specific consumption practices such as combining alcohol with energy drinks, combining alcohol with illicit drugs, playing drinking games and other risky drinking practices.

We still don’t know whether particular substances influence the likelihood of teens engaging in risky or harmful behaviour at schoolies. But to address these gaps, last year we surveyed 500 schoolies in Lorne and Torquay in Victoria. These findings will be published in early 2014.


Gold Coast and Rottnest Iland schoolies tend to take more risks that shoolies in other parts of the country. Matthew Kenwrick


We do know that young people are likely to drink risky levels of alcohol and engage in a range of risk-taking behaviours. And those who travel to other states for schoolies, particularly to the Gold Coast, are likely to get more drunk and take more risks.

We also know that risk-taking behaviours have not reduced over time, despite local and state governments initiating a range of non-alcohol-related activities and support services for young people during schoolies, such as Red Frogs.

So it’s important that parents, teachers and friends have honest conversations with young people about schoolies prior to the event. These tips for minimising harm might help kick start the discussion:

Make sure you have food when you consume alcohol

Drink water when you consume alcohol and try to alternate each alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink

Avoid combining alcohol with other substances, including energy drinks, licit and illicit drugs

Always look out for friends

Practice safe sex: be prepared by buying condoms prior to schoolies

Access local services such as Red Frogs for harm-reduction information and support services.

Amy Pennay receives funding from ARC, beyondblue and NDLERF.

Dan Lubman receives funding from the ARC, NHMRC, beyondblue and Rotary.

Nic Droste receives a PhD stipend from ARC, and has received funding from NHMRC, AERF, NSW Health, and St John of God.

Central Coast Mariners deny desire to relocate to North Sydney

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The club’s owner Mike Charlesworth claims he’s losing more than a million dollars a year, and with 20 percent of the Mariners members living in Sydney’s northern suburbs the players understand a business decision may have to be made.



“We’re not in charge,” Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey told SBS.

“It’s up to Mike and he’s got a business to run and if he’s haemorrhaging money and he thinks he can save it by doing that [relocating], it’s his decision and it’s not for us to question.”


Although the Mariners have ruled out a permanent move to North Sydney, if the North Sydney Oval stands are filled with football fans next month the experiment may be continued.


“I think it’s all up to the fans,” North Sydney Council Mayor Jilly Gibson says.

“It’s all up to those that love their footy, come along and support this game and if it’s a success we’ll have more games I’m sure.”  


The now defunct Northern Spirit attracted big crowds to the venue in the late 1990’s so there’s clearly an appetite for the game in the area.


The Mariners will study the off-field success of the Phoenix match before any decision on future games there will be made.


But the local council is eager for more A-League football.   


“We’d love more games, we love to see our oval used as much as it can, “ Mayor Gibson says.

“I think its Sydney’s most beautiful oval and it looks fantastic when there’s a capacity crowd there.”


Football Federation Australia confirmed today its happy for the December 19 match to go ahead, but that the North Sydney Oval requires significant investment to become a permanent A-League venue. 

Government urged to reconsider asylum baby case

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The immigration minister is being urged to consider granting a newborn and his asylum seeker family protection visas as the case plays out in court.


The case of a baby born in Brisbane to refugees from Myanmar returned to the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on Thursday.

Baby Ferouz was born in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital this month after his diabetic mother was brought from Nauru for the birth, along with her husband and two other children.

Lawyers for the family of five are seeking an injunction to prevent their return to Nauru without “procedural fairness”, that is, without family members being able to present independent medical evidence.

The lawyers also want to prevent the family’s removal before it can be determined if Ferouz is entitled to Australian citizenship.

Lawyers for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison were granted a third hearing on Thursday to argue the case can only be determined in the High Court because it involves “unauthorised maritime arrivals”.

Judge Margaret Cassidy said she would give a decision about jurisdiction on Friday afternoon.

Maurice Blackburn associate Murray Watt, for the asylum seeker family, said Mr Morrison can intervene to help the family, including by granting them protection visas.

“He can step in at any moment to do that and then this whole legal action would go away,” Mr Watt told reporters.

“But rather than doing that the Commonwealth continues to stall and continues to bring this before the court.

“I’d encourage the Commonwealth to really reflect on its position about that especially in the wake of some of the things we’ve seen in the public debate this week.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delivered a scathing report on living conditions in the Nauru detention centre this week, finding the facility was inappropriate for children.

And Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly told a Sydney audience on Wednesday night that in Ferouz’s case Australia must remember “justice has to be tempered by mercy”.

Migration biggest contributor to population growth

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(Transcript from World News Australia on SBS Radio)

Australia’s population is projected to double by 2075 with migration as the highest contributor.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics report shows almost 15 million migrants are expected to arrive over the next six decades, bringing the country’s population to 46 million.

Marc Tong takes a look at the growth trends and their impacts on Australia’s major cities.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full story)

For the first time, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is including data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in population projections over the next five years.

Combining those figures with current trends, migration numbers are estimated at 240,000 a year.

Demographer and Assistant Director at the Bureau Phil Browning says that’s an increase from past projections.

“The previous set that we did assumed 180,000 per year, so we’re 60,000 higher than that number. But that number itself was 70,000 higher than the set that we did before, where we set net overseas migration at 110,000. So migration has gone up a lot in the last five years.”

The Bureau projections show it will be Australia’s major cities that will grow the most as they attract the majority of migrants.

Phil Browning says some of the smaller cities will overtake today’s bigger ones.

“These projections show Perth is growing fairly fast at the moment. Melbourne and Sydney should be neck-and-neck (equal) by 2053 with 7.9 million people each, but Perth could overtake Brisbane in 2028 at three million people and the ACT could overtake Tasmania.”

But Dr Bob Birrell, from the Centre for Population and Urban Reseach at Monash University, says the projections are not definitive forecasts.

He says if the projections play out, states and cities won’t be able to cope with the numbers particularly when it comes to employment.

“The question is what are all these people giong to do and I don’t think there is a clear answer to this. At the moment what they are doing – or what the government hopes they will do – is that they will help to build the appropriate infrustructure, the housing and other facilities necessary to accommodate extra people. But it’s hard to see how that could continue forever because it will involve very considerable borrowing and at some point we will have to have an industrial base that would support these much larger populations.”

The federal MP for Wills, Labor’s Kelvin Thompson, agrees that Australia’s cities will come under huge strain from an increased number of migrants.

He says that strain will produce a gap socially and economically.

“I think this increase will be disastrous for the big cities. It will drive traffic congestion in gridlock, high rise and the loss of public open space, widening gap between rich and poor and social inequality. and it will also fuel housing unaffordability and job security for our young people. I cannot see any examples of cities or countires around the world which have effectively managed rapid population growth. In every case it’s smaller more stable populations which have fared better in terms of economic prosperity and also looking after their environment.”

But the Settlement Council of Australia disagrees that migration would cripple the social and economic fabric of Australia.

Executive Officer Sky de Jersey says history shows migrants contribute more to the country, not less.

“Continuing to support migration through strong settlement services is essential. There’s a lot of research on the positive benefits and the positive economic and social and civic contributions of migrants and people of refugee backgrounds to Australia and that’s leveraged and strengthened when you have strong settlement services, particularly in the early stages of settlement. People can do really really well and if you look at the top billionaires and millionaires of Australia there’s an interesting number of them from refugee and migrant backgrounds.”

Then there’s the question of health services to support the current population and future migrants.

Dr Birrell says while an influx of migrants can provide temporary relief for when baby boomers age, there is a catch.

“In the medium term it will be beneficial in the sense that most migrants are of working age and therefore when the baby boomers retire, having more migrants in the working ages here will slow the process of decline in the number of workers in proportion to dependents. In the long term migration is not a great deal of help because migrants get older and the migration solution requires more and more migrants.”

But the Settlement Council’s Sky de Jersey says even if the numbers increase as projected, it will be met by an increase of services.

“The services generally grow as the communities grow, so the projected increase is one of the factors and it’s generalyl done in a very planned way, there’s a fair amount of consultation that happens around that so I don’t foresee any particular consequences from that point of view. Australia ranks fifth internationally in terms of integration. There’s a study done regularly called the Migration Policy Index and it looks at integration across a range of policy areas and Australia’s fifth out of 33 countries internationally, which I think is pretty high.”




Comment: Walkley Awards recognise online journalism – it’s time we all did

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By Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology

For the first time, the 2013 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism include prizes for Multimedia Storytelling and Podcast (the latter within the broader Radio Documentary category).


The new categories represent a significant, if still cautious, embrace of the digital age by Australia’s premier journalism award-giving body. Their inclusion signals some recognition of all those are-they-or-are-they-not journalistic forms that we associate with the rise of the internet.

There is a film I talk to students about called Shattered Glass (directed by Billy Ray and released in 2003) because it marks, for me, the moment at which media power really began to shift from analogue to digital platforms.

The film tells the true story of Stephen Glass, who in the late 1990s fabricated dozens of major feature articles for The New Republic in the US – one of the most prestigious and authoritative news publications in the world.



The whistle was blown on Glass not by another print outlet, or a network TV news investigation, but by a reporter for (the now defunct) Forbes Digital Tool, Adam Penenberg. Forbes Digital Tool, part of the business media empire, was one of the first online news publications, and this was the story that made the established media take them, and digital journalism in general, seriously.

Breaking the Glass ceiling

That the Glass scandal was broken by an online publication is important for two reasons.

First, it put to rest the idea, common among journalists of the old school at that time, that digital media are less capable of producing quality journalism than the established print and broadcast media.

Second, it showed that the established media, staffed by trained professional journalists, rigorously edited and quality-controlled, are just as capable of producing worthless garbage as any blogger or social networker.

It blasted through the status hierarchy that divided analogue and digital media (old and new, if you prefer) from the mid-1990s, when web-based journalism became a presence in the media environment, until at least the early 2000s, when the two somewhat grudgingly learned to live with each other.


Esther Vargas


From this vantage point, we can see that journalists and their media organisations have, in the last 15 years or so, gone through a process akin to bereavement or loss. There was Denial, then Anger, then Depression, then Negotiation, and now Acceptance that digital technology and social media are here to stay.

We should welcome that outcome. Digital media allow ordinary people to participate actively in the production of journalism, and comment and react to it with unprecedented speed and ease.

Crude, but good

User generated content may be raw and often crude, but it opens up the public sphere to all those millions of citizens (and non-citizens in the context of authoritarian countries) previously excluded by the limits of technology.

User-generated content is increasingly used by mainstream news media, as in coverage of the Arab Spring protests assembled from cellphone video footage uploaded to YouTube or Twitter.

Millions of people can share the stuff they like on social media, which spreads the reach of good journalism, and critique or challenge the stuff they don’t like, or that’s just plain wrong.

Social media provide a Fifth Estate, another layer of scrutiny on the media itself. This can only be good for journalism which, as Shattered Glass demonstrates, is more than capable of the most humungous errors of fact, not to mention outright fakery and fabrication.

Digital media allow enhanced scrutiny of political and other elites. WikiLeaks proves how powerful the internet can be as a means of spreading information that the powerful may wish to keep secret.

Edward Snowden, too. All democrats should welcome the pressure these voices and the digital media they use put on governments to be more transparent, and to justify their policies on such matters as internet surveillance and censorship.

This is true of authoritarian regimes obviously – the Arab Spring was to a large extent a social media event – but as Snowden’s revelations show, liberal democratic governments have plenty of skeletons in their cupboards.

Digital media shine new light on them. In doing so, they enable us to make informed decisions about how much power our state should have over us.

All of this means the digital media are an asset, both to the mainstream news media, and to the global public, rather than a threat.

But WikiLeaks and Snowden also show the downsides of social media – so much information, too little time to process, analyse, make sense of it.

Sift work

In the analogue era we worried about information scarcity, and bias amongst those few outlets that existed. Today we have information surplus, and not enough time as individuals to assess it all for accuracy, or indeed bias.

And yes, maybe there were aspects of the big data leaks we’ve seen that were damaging to Australian, or US, or British national interests. But how do we know which bits? And do we have to suppress them all because one or two bits might be dangerous?


European Parliament


It’s the job of the professional journalist, working for properly-resourced news media, to undertake that filtering, sifting, sorting, interpretative work on our behalf, and with our consent. Trained journalists have the time and skills to make sense of 300,000 Iraqi war dispatches.

I don’t, but I do want to know what’s in them, and what it tells me about those who fight wars in my name. That is when I turn to my Guardian, or Australian, or Sydney Morning Herald. And that’s why, despite the challenge to traditional journalistic practices presented by digitalisation, the need for and value of professional journalism remains high.

Indeed, we might say the sense-making, sifting and sorting, reality-structuring functions of journalism become even more important in the era of social media and proliferating sources of news, commentary and analysis, where there is more information, coming from more directions than ever before.

Social media do not undermine traditional journalism – though they may expose its flaws, weaknesses and hubris. On the contrary, interacting and engaging with their potential is the key to the survival of a recognisable profession of journalism and a healthy news media in the coming period.

Embrace and prosper

To prosper in an online world news media must embrace digitalisation and social media, as most are now doing, while identifying and strengthening the distinctive qualities they possess as professionally trained, properly resourced, organisationally secure, trusted sources of news, analysis, commentary and opinion.




The news brands that survive the transition from analogue to digital will be those that successfully combine the dynamism and diversity of digital media with the authority, technical skill and aesthetic qualities we associate with the best of journalism today.

Cheap short-cuts, penny-pinching, down-sizing, hoping to piggy back on the power and appeal of social media won’t work on its own, because digital media start-ups do that better already (Gawker and Buzzfeed for example, or the Huffington Post).

Exploit the technology to make efficiencies, by all means, but organisations such as the ABC, Sky News, News Ltd, Fairfax must invest in their editorial resource as much as in digital infrastructure.

With that approach, journalists can aspire to again be what English journalist Joan Bakewell once called “a New Priesthood” – respected, trusted figures to whom we turn for guidance and advice about the complex world we live in.

That’s why awards such as the Walkleys remain important, and why it’s so encouraging they are taken so seriously, and receive such extensive coverage as they do. Not every country publicly recognises its journalists in this way.

Indeed, not every country has news media of the quality of Australia’s. And that is cause for celebration, on at least one night of the year.

Brian McNair will present the Radio/Audio Documentary, Feature, Podcast or Special Award at the Walkleys tonight, on behalf of the Creative Industries Faculty, QUT. The Awards ceremony will be broadcast on ABC3, hosted by Lateline presenter Emma Alberici.

Brian McNair receives funding from the Australian Research Council

I’ll handle England myself, says Australia’s Lyon

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Lyon captured key wickets in Australia’s 381-run victory over the tourists in the first test but question marks remain over whether the 26-year-old has the game to close out a victory.


Some of the doubt stems from last year’s test series against South Africa when Australia needed six wickets on the last day at Adelaide Oval to win on a deteriorating pitch.

Lyon took only one wicket that day, with paceman Peter Siddle taking the leading role with three wickets but South Africa, led by test debutant Faf du Plessis, held on to save the game before routing Australia in Perth to win the series.

“I’ve learnt a fair amount playing a few test matches down there,” Lyon told reporters on Thursday.

“I’ve learnt a fair amount about my game and what I need to do and what I need to do to get better.

“Fingers crossed there’s a little bit more spin down there and we’ll see how we go.”

Lyon is famous for having worked as a curator at Adelaide Oval in 2010 before being spotted by local coach Darren Berry and completing a remarkable rise to the test team the following year.

The offspinner took five wickets on debut against Sri Lanka and has 89 wickets from 26 test matches at a respectable average of 32.44.

He has often had a lukewarm reception from Australia’s selectors, however, who left him out of the opening two tests of the northern Ashes series in favour of an untried teenager in Ashton Agar.

Lyon will head into the second test with his status as Australia’s number one spinner in little doubt, however, though may have some part-time support from Steve Smith or captain Michael Clarke.

“In saying that if the bowling group does our job they (part-time spinners) won’t have to bowl,” he said.

“I’m more than happy to take on the responsibility of being the number one spinner and hopefully get a few overs under my belt.”

Much has been made of the sledging on the field at the Gabba and Lyon was arm-in-arms with his team mates when he said the hosts would not be curbing the aggression at Adelaide Oval.

“We’re not expecting anyone to roll over. We know the quality of the England cricket side,” Lyon said.

“We’re going to have to stand up … and start that fight again.

“That’s the way Australia play their best cricket.

“We know where the line is and we don’t step over it … We’re going to continue to play aggressive, hard cricket.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Traumatising and inhumane: why TPVs have to go

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By Kerry Murphy, Australian National University

People smuggling has cost the lives of at least 1,199 people between August 2008 and November 2013.


Those fortunate enough to survive these tragedies at sea face enduring trauma: mandatory detention, loss of rights, and now, temporary protection visas (TPVs), which the Coalition reintroduced in October.

TPVs grant protection to successful applicants who arrive in Australia without a visa or whose case was undecided at October 18 this year. Some refugees have waited for one to two years for their visa due to security checks or review processes, and now they will only get a TPV.

Ordinarily, temporary protection is used internationally for a mass influx of refugees. This is currently occurring with Syrian refugees and previously occurred with Iraqi refugees. TPVs are certainly not one of the internationally recognised three durable solutions to the asylum seeker issue: voluntarily return home (when safe), local integration or a third-country resettlement.

Howard’s TPV 1 to Abbott’s TPV 2

The first temporary protection visa (TPV 1) was introduced in October 1999 as a deterrent to asylum seekers arriving by boat. After its introduction, the number of arrivals increased until the Pacific Solution was implemented in September 2001.

Under TPV 1, it was possible to get a permanent visa after 30 months on the TPV, provided you still met the refugee criteria. In practice, most cases took around four to five years to be decided.

TPVs – both old and new versions – provide a visa for three years only, and holders can only apply for a further protection visa while in the country. Holders of the new TPV cannot get a permanent protection visa, only another TPV if they again meet the protection visa criteria; whereas most of the holders of the old TPV could get a permanent visa if they met the refugee criteria again.

A TPV refugee can work, but has no entitlement to a return visa if they travel outside of Australia. TPV refugees cannot sponsor their spouse of dependent children while they have a TPV, unlike those holding a permanent protection visa.

Currently, the pathway to a permanent visa is only through very exceptional circumstances under what is known as a waiver of the “No Further Stay” provision. It is not enough for a TPV refugee to prove that they still meet the refugee criteria after three years, as that will only give them another TPV. This is different to the Howard-era TPV 1.

One consequence of TPV 1 was that in 2000 and 2001, many more women and children were arriving on boats to reunite with their partners here on a TPV. The SIEV-X, which sank in October 2001 and resulted in 353 deaths, had a significant number of spouses and dependent children of TPV-holders on board.

By the time the TPV 1 was abolished in August 2008, the ban on other onshore applications had also been removed. This meant that many other onshore visa options became possible, such as a partner visa. Those who married Australian citizens could also apply onshore for a partner visa rather than be forced offshore to apply.

A number of studies by psychologists criticised the serious adverse effects of TPV 1 on the mental health of the refugees.

One report noted that the:

Certainty of residency to persons recognised as refugees seems to be essential for recovery from trauma-related psychiatric symptoms. Families and social groups that are not kept together or reunited maybe at greater risk of prolonged mental disorder.

Under the Abbott government’s new TPV 2, there is no provision made for family reunion. Also, the ability to access further education will be affected by the TPV refugee needing to pay overseas student rates unless exemptions are made. Aside from not being able to get a permanent visa, the other provisions are the same as TPV 1.

The TPV was a key plank in the Coalition’s asylum seeker policy in the lead-up to the election. Previously, the TPV had little – if any – deterrent value, but now it is purely punitive, as it applies to the thousands already in the process of applying for refugee status.


A disallowance motion is set to be moved next week to scrap the reintroduction of TPVs. AAP/Daniel Munoz


Opportunity for reform

Next week, the Greens will move a disallowance motion in the Senate to scrap the TPV legislation. This is not the first time such a disallowance motion has been attempted on TPVs. In 2003, a regulation which required all onshore refugees to be granted a TPV first before a permanent visa was disallowed in the Senate.

If this forthcoming disallowance is successful, it means those already granted a TPV are stuck with it (as the disallowance does not apply retroactively), but others would then be entitled to a permanent visa. If the motion is disallowed, the government cannot reintroduce the substantially same regulation for six months – by which time the new Senate will be set to sit.

Legislation must provide a statement of compatibility with human rights. Remarkably, the explanatory memorandum attached to the reintroduction of TPVs last month states that:

The Statement’s overall assessment is that the Regulation is compatible with human rights because it advances the protection of human rights and to the extent that it may limit human rights, those limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

How a provision that prevents a refugee from reuniting with their immediate family (who may also be in danger) “advance[s] the protection of human rights” is a complete mystery. It seems that government policy trumps human rights, even of a potentially traumatised population group such as refugees. Not only that, it will further traumatise them by forced separation.

Politically, it is not clear how the new Senate would vote on a disallowance motion. In the meantime, “punish the refugees” remains the policy and the law.

Kerry Murphy is affiliated with the Jesuit Refugee Service, he is a lecturer in the Migration Law program at the Australian National university and he is a partner and accredited specialist in Immigration Law in a Sydney law firm.

Scott fires course record in ‘rollercoaster’ round

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Scott has been on fire on a valedictory tour of his homeland over the last few weeks, winning both the Australian PGA and Masters, and helping his country to hoist the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne last weekend.


The 33-year-old showed no sign of slowing down as he started his fourth event at the Royal Sydney Golf Course on Thursday, grabbing birdies on his first six holes, parring the middle eight and then picking up four shots on his final four holes.

The first streak of birdies had the U.S. Masters champion contemplating the possibility that he might be about to join an even more select group of golfers, those who have shot rounds of 59 in professional tournaments.

“I wasn’t thinking about it hard but I knew it was a possibility. Having birdied the six holes I birdied, I felt like all the opportunities were still to come,” he said.

“So if I kept it going, and I had a good run around the turn, I felt it was on for sure.”

It was not to be, though, and from his seventh hole – the 16th – Scott felt his swing desert him and was soon battling his frustration at being unable to continue his charge.

“It was a beautiful day for golf, I came out hitting great shots and didn’t have much work to do to clean them up in the first five holes and had a nice putt on my sixth hole and I was really rolling at that stage,” he said.


“But I think I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotion out there today from cruising after six holes to having to work pretty hard.

“Nothing much was going my way, I missed a green, felt like my swing was leaving me again, it’s just amazing how in 18 holes you can do a 360 degrees of emotion and mood swings and everything.”

Despite his success of the last few weeks, perfectionist Scott said he felt his swing had not been quite “in the slot” and revealed he had discussed his “sloppy” posture on the phone with his coach Brad Malone.

“It’s a bit hard work for me at the moment,” he said. “I still hit some great shots but a few average ones as well. But I got away with the bad ones today with some good saves.”

It was all relative of course, and he continued to nail the four to five foot putts that punctuated his round before catching fire again at the sixth hole, his 15th.

Scott said the strong finish was essential to avoid wasting the opportunity his brilliant start had opened up, but part of him was still left contemplating how low he might have gone.

“I’m thinking about what today could have been, if I was really striking it and lost opportunities,” he said.

Scott nevertheless said it had been one of the “best rounds” of his career, along with the round of 61 he hit to win the Qatar Masters in 2008 and a 62 he shot at the Memorial at Muirfield Village in 2007.

Thursday’s round not only gave him a healthy early lead but also beat the course record of 65 held since the 2008 Australian Open by Stephen Dartnall, Matt Goggins, Ewan Porter, Chris Gaunt and Jason Norris.

(Editing by John O’Brien)