As it happened: Scott Morrison’s office responds to meme backlash amid portfolio saga; industrial relations debate brews after unemployment rate hits 48-year low – Sydney Morning Herald

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Good evening, and thanks for reading our live news coverage today, here are the main headlines:
That’s all from us today, we will be back on Monday morning from 7am, until then, have a lovely weekend.
The biggest mystery in the universe could be solved one kilometre underground in a gold mine in country Victoria where a new laboratory opened on Friday.
Dark matter makes up 85 per cent of the cosmos and binds the universe together, but exactly what it is and how it works remains unknown.
Professor Elisabetta Barberio inside the dark matter lab while it was under-construction last year.Credit:Joe Armao
A new high-tech laboratory at the Stawell Gold Mine hopes to solve the mystery and detect dark matter within five years, allowing scientists to one day unlock its secrets.
RMIT physics lecturer Dr Gail Iles told 3AW that discovering dark matter would be “a Nobel Prize for sure”, if scientists could pull it off.
“[Discovering dark matter] would help our exploration of space. And the detectors we develop would most likely be able to be used in other fields. Probably most likely medical fields,” Iles said.
The Stawell project’s lead researcher, Professor Elisabetta Barberio from the University of Melbourne, said dark matter was common even in Earth’s atmosphere.
“We don’t know what the majority of the universe is made of, so understanding dark matter is understanding the universe,” Barberio said.
“Without the dark matter we would not have galaxies, we would not exist.
“There are many, many thousands of dark matter particles passing through us. So there is all this universe around us [that] we don’t see, and we would like to know what it is.”
Read more here.
China sentenced Chinese-Canadian financier Xiao Jianhua to 13 years in prison and fined his company Tomorrow Holding 55 billion yuan ($AU11.7 billion), bringing an end to a long-running saga that has seen many of the tycoon’s business interests reined in since he was seized in Hong Kong more than five years ago.
Xiao was found guilty of illegally obtaining public deposits, breach of trust, bribery and the illegal use of funds, according to a ruling by the Shanghai First Intermediate People’s Court on Friday.
Xiao used his financial network to offer pooled funds and sell insurance and other investment products, absorbing more than 311.6 billion yuan ($AU66.3 billion) from the public alone, according to the court.
Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire, reads a book outside the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong.Credit:AP
The trial marked Xiao’s first public appearance since 2017 when he was taken from his room at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong, where he had been staying for several years after fleeing China.
The Hurun Report of China’s richest people said Xiao, a student leader at the time of 1989 pro-democracy protests, was part of a fortune estimated at almost $6 billion before he went missing.
The probe into Xiao and his financial network, which included more than 40 financial institutions, was part of a broader effort by authorities to root out illicit activities and ensure financial stability as confidence in the $59 trillion financial system is eroding.
Chinese regulators assumed control of nine financial firms linked to Xiao in mid-2020, after having seized control of Baoshang Bank Co. – another lender linked to the financier – a year earlier citing its “serious” credit risks.
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Kyiv/Lviv: The UN chief and the presidents of Turkey and Ukraine have discussed ways to end the war started by Russia and secure Europe’s largest nuclear power station, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of new shelling near the plant.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after talks in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday he was gravely concerned about circumstances at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he, Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed reviving peace negotiations with Russia that took place in Istanbul in March.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, centre, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands after their meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday.Credit:AP
In a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in July for Russia to lift a blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments, and exports resumed at the beginning of August.
Meeting in the western city of Lviv, far from the front lines, the leaders discussed expanding exchanges of prisoners of war and arranging for UN atomic energy experts to visit and help secure Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which is in the middle of fierce fighting that has raised fears of catastrophe.
Read more here.
Welcome to your five-minute recap of the trading day and how the experts saw it.
The numbers: The Australian sharemarket closed flat on Friday, putting on 1.70 points to 7114.50, doing just enough to record its fifth straight week of gains.
The energy sector lifted the market, climbing 4 per cent in its best day in two months, while the big four banks all finished lower.
The lifters: Santos up 6.4%, continuing its post-results recovery; Whitehaven Coal up 6.2% to a record high; and Newcrest climbed 3.6% after vowing to raise gold production in the year ahead.
The laggards: TPG finished 12.4% down after posting flat revenue for six months to June; Ingham’s slumped 9.4% after recording a drop in full-year net profit; and Fisher & Paykel tumbled 5.2% after holding back its full-year guidance.
Wall Street has struggled to gain traction this week.Credit:Bloomberg
The lowdown: Friday’s marginally positive result saw the ASX record a 1.17 per cent gain for the week.
The energy sector was the strongest of the five sectors to finish up on Friday, while AGL Energy was down 3.92 per cent after reporting a sharp fall in underlying profit.
The power giant has faced a turbulent year including volatile wholesale electricity prices, coal-fired generator outages and a campaign by billionaire investor Mike Cannon-Brookes that blew up the company’s plans to demerge.
New Zealand healthcare systems provider Fisher & Paykel took a hit on its share price after flagging lower first-half revenues and holding back on a full-year guidance
Read more here.
Aboriginal enrolments to university have doubled in the past decade, but financial challenges result in many Indigenous students abandoning their studies after their first year.
Warumungu and Warlmanpa man 23-year-old Ethan Taylor is one of the success stories. He is headed from Melbourne University to Oxford to study political philosophy on a fully funded Charlie Perkins scholarship and is hoping to become an academic.
Ethan Taylor is an Aboriginal student who has received a Charlie Perkins scholarship to go to Oxford.Credit:Simon Schluter
“[Political philosophy] is one of the last fields to get decolonised,” Taylor said.
Between 2010 and 2020, Aboriginal student enrolments have essentially doubled in bachelor, postgraduate and postgraduate research respectively from 7605 to 15,290, from 1285 to 3330 in postgraduate studies and 423 to 751 in postgraduate research.
In the same period, Aboriginal enrolment has also increased as a percentage of all enrolments from 0.92 per cent to 1.41 per cent, according to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
The dropout rate is still higher for non-Indigenous students, but is declining. In 2010, Indigenous students had an attrition rate of 25.46 in their bachelor degrees compared with 13.72 for non-Indigenous students.
In 2019, it dropped to 19.45 compared with 15.52 for non-Indigenous students.
Minister for Education Jason Clare said fewer than 10 per cent of First Nations Australians aged between 25 and 34 have a university degree.
“I don’t want us to be a country where your chances in life depend on your postcode, your parents, or the colour of your skin,” Clare said.
Read more here.
Queensland police deputy commissioner Paul Taylor has resigned after lewd comments made at conferences with the top brass were aired during an inquiry on Thursday.
The Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland Police Service Response to Domestic and Family Violence on Thursday heard that two officers had made comments at two conferences earlier this year, attended by some of the highest-ranking officers in the state.
Regional Queensland police Deputy Commissioner Paul Taylor. Credit:QPS
In one instance, a superintendent shouted “did she shut her legs on you?” to the master of ceremonies at a conference attended by about 100 QPS staff.
Taylor, the deputy commissioner for regional Queensland, based in Townsville, sent an email to QPS staff on Friday admitting he was involved in the second, unrelated, incident, where he referred to a friend as a “vagina whisperer” in a speech.
He said he would immediately resign after 45 years in the QPS.
“Yesterday, an incident I was involved in at a conference was brought to the attention of the Commission of Inquiry into QPS Responses to Domestic and Family Violence. I am devastated about the impact this has had on the reputation of the service because it does not reflect my values, nor those of the organisation,” he wrote.
“It was never my intention to offend anyone and I am deeply apologetic for the harm it has caused.
“I was remorseful immediately after the incident, and the Commissioner addressed the matter with me soon after.”
Read more here.
Cochlear chief executive Dig Howitt says Australia needs training and immigration policies that allow skilled workers to flow into the healthcare sector that continues to bear the brunt of two years of border closures.
Howitt told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that as virus case numbers fall across the world, disruptions look set to ease, but noted that Australian hospitals also felt the strain over the past year.
“When the number of infections goes up and when people are going into hospital for COVID and intensive care rises, then it does put pressure on hospitals and on elective surgery,” he said.
Cochlear CEO and president Dig Howitt said he expected a stronger second half of 2023.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
As health systems face fatigue more than two years into the pandemic, Howitt said Cochlear was seeing shortages of nurses and anaesthetists in a number of different countries. He added that while there was no one solution for solving staffing shortages, greater investment in developing the pipeline of future healthcare workers was critical.
“Whether that’s [through investing in] training facilities or through immigration, depending on the country, it’s important.”
He said after two years of closed borders, it was “critically important” that Australia reviewed whether its immigration and education systems were set up to ensure enough skilled workers were available in sectors like health and engineering.
Read more here.
Australian egg producers will be allowed to use battery cages until 2036 in a decision animal welfare organisations say will consign 55 million hens to a life of suffering.
The Department of Agriculture released new animal welfare standards for the poultry industry this week, which for the first time set an end date on the use of battery cages.
Battery hens in NSW.Credit:Simon Alekna
Hens kept in battery hens occupy a cage area less than the size of an A4 paper, meaning they cannot stretch their wings, perch, scratch or nest as is normal behaviour for chickens.
Three quarters of OECD countries have either banned or begun phasing out battery cages. The EU first voted to ban the cages in 1999 and along with the UK, ended their use in 2012.
New Zealand phased out battery cages this year along with 10 states in the US, which have either banned them or begun phasing them out.
The new Australian standards, the result of seven years of negotiations between government and industry, allow the use of battery cages until 2036.
Of the 167,000 public submissions, 99 per cent demanded the use of battery cages be ended.
“The standards are underpinned by a review of the relevant scientific literature, recommended industry practice and community expectations,” the department said.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt backed the new standards saying they balanced science with animal welfare.
Read more here.
ABS data released today shows 698 million chickens were slaughtered across Australia in the year to June 2022, the most since records began in 1966.
A legal row over moves by the Kiribati government to deport an Australian citizen and senior Kiribati judge who is married to the country’s opposition leader has intensified after a New York-based lawyer acting for the government said the decision of the executive should be treated with “maximum deference”.
Lawyers for Australian David Lambourne, a former solicitor-general of Kiribati who was appointed to its High Court in 2018, successfully applied to the country’s Court of Appeal last Friday for an urgent order releasing him from immigration detention pending a further court hearing.
Kiribati High Court Justice David Lambourne, right, pictured in 2019 with Sir John Baptist Muri, a former chief justice of the High Court of Kiribati. The Kiribati government has been seeking to deport Lambourne.Credit:Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute
The parties returned to court on Friday. Sydney barristers Perry Herzfeld, SC, and Daniel Reynolds acted for Lambourne and argued deportation notices issued to him by the government were invalid.
“It seems to be suggested that neither we nor the court is entitled to know why the [Kiribati president] … decreed Justice Lambourne to be a risk to security and the court must give utmost deference to that assessment,” Herzfeld said, in reference to submissions for the government made by US lawyer Ravi Batra.
“There’s no doctrine in the English law, which applies in Kiribati, of maximum deference or utmost deference to a decree of [the president].”
Lambourne is a long-time resident of Kiribati and lives with his wife, opposition leader Tessie Lambourne, in the nation’s capital, South Tarawa.
Read more here.
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