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Lifestyle and breast cancer link probed

Hormone replacement therapy and lifestyle choices do not boost the risk of breast cancer associated with a dozen common genetic mutations, a new study finds.


Factors such as hormone treatment, alcohol consumption, obesity and giving birth to a first child later in life have all been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

A number of common genetic variations also correlate with the disease, albeit weakly.

Genetic vs. non-genetic cancers

Earlier research suggested that combining the two types of risk factors could amplify the overall danger, but results were inconclusive.

To help tease apart genetic and non-genetic influences, scientists led by Ruth Travis at the University of Oxford examined the medical histories of some 17,350 women, 7,160 of whom had developed breast cancer.

All of the participants provided blood samples for genetic testing and information on lifestyle habits. Most of the women were post-menopausal.

Environmental factors

The researchers looked for 12 variants in the women’s DNA known to boost the danger of cancer.

They also measured 10 environmental risk factors: age at puberty, number of births, age at first birth, breastfeeding, menopausal status, age at menopause, use of hormone therapy, body fat, height and alcohol intake.

Surprisingly, none of the 120 possible match-ups between a single genetic variant and a behavioural or body-type risk factor showed a statistically significant increase in breast cancer risk.

“There was no convincing evidence for gene-environment interaction,” the researchers concluded.

Risky behaviours ‘modifiable’

The study did not cover data on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which have a far stronger association to breast cancer than the other genetic variants examined but are much rarer.

“Genes account for only a small proportion of breast cancers for most women and for most women the main risk remains the lifestyle factors,” said Oxford’s Jane Green, a co-author of the study.

“The good news is that some of these are modifiable, so by changing their behaviour women can alter their risk of breast cancer.”

2019年1月15日 上海性息

Panel members debut on Insight

Insight has recruited voters from the most marginal seats in Australia to follow the election campaign and give their frank assessment each week of the leaders and their policies.


Meet the Panel

Watch: Insight ‘Game On’

Last night they joined the Insight audience to share their thoughts, grievances and concerns with Liberal powerbroker Senator Nick Minchin and Labor’s campaign spokesman, MP Chris Bowen.

The Panel expressed their concern over the abilities of Liberal Leader Tony Abbott.

Di Williams, a self-funded retiree from the Brisbane electorate of Bonner said she was concerned about his performance in interviews.

“He doesn’t appear to have any confidence – confidence is really important. They ask him a question and because it is not rehearsed, he doesn’t know what to say. It is like he needs somebody behind him saying, “This is what you say.” And he’s just stumbling. He doesn’t know how to get out of a mess that he’s in,” she said.

South Australian Adrian Beacham, 49, expressed a similar sentiment.

“It is not so much the stumble, it is a full-blown trip! He is falling over! He really is!”

On the topic of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Panel were particularly concerned about the way she came to power.

“I think the way that Julia Gillard got the position of Prime Minister, I don’t agree with it at all. I think it was downright disgusting,” Beacham said.

Emily Cullen, a part-time university student from the Queensland electorate of Dawson said she had “no confidence” in the Prime Minister.

“She seemed so loyal when she was behind Kevin Rudd and then out of nowhere, she came out and next thing you know she was leader,” she said.

Members of the Panel will appear on Insight each week to give their opinion on the progress of the election campaign.


Israeli boat raid: What the bloggers say

Tens of thousands of people have gathered outside Israeli embassies and consulates across the globe to demonstrate against the incident, which left at least nine activists dead.


And the protests have gone online too, with thousands making their opinions – both pro- and anti-Israel – on the issue clear.

British actor and writer David Schneider (@davidschneider) expressed the frustration felt by many at Israel’s controversial actions in a post on Twitter.

“As a Jew, Israel’s like a close family member who’s hooked on heroin and you just don’t know what to do with them any more,” he wrote.

Growing sense of anger

Within Israel, too, there was a sense of growing anger, and a feeling that the country was shooting itself in the foot with its raid on an aid convoy.

Yossi Melman, of left-wing daily Ha’aretz, writes that – eyes wide open – Israel has fallen into a trap.

“The organizers of the flotilla wanted to present the Israel Defense Forces to the world as an army that does not hesitate to use force,” he said.

“The flotilla organizers wanted deaths, casualties, blood and billows of smoke. And this is exactly what Israel gave them.”

Fellow Ha’aretz blogger Bradley Burston argues the crisis shows that Israel’s enemies know the country better than it knows itself.

“Hamas, and no less, Iran and Hezbollah, learned early on that Israel’s own embargo against Hamas-ruled Gaza was the most sophisticated and powerful weapon they could have deployed against the Jewish state. Here in Israel, we have still yet to learn the lesson.”

‘Peaceful activist’ claims ‘a lie’

And he warns that Monday’s raid on the flotilla has backfired spectacularly.

“Keen to have the world focus on Iran and the threat it poses to the people of Israel, Netanyahu must recognize that the world is now focused on Israel and the threat it poses to the people of Gaza.”

But not all commentators are against Israel’s actions. Right-wing blogger Benjamin Kerstein writes in The New Ledger that claims Israeli soldiers “wantonly fired upon the peaceful activists… killing many” are “a lie”.

“But it is a lie that will be repeated ad nauseum over the coming days, until it takes on all the appearance of truth.

“As you watch this happen, note well what it says about the people who repeat this lie, and the ease with which it is accepted by many ostensibly sensible and right thinking people.

“And note as well what this says about their claims to be compassionate, liberal, concerned citizens of the world.”

‘Self-defence’ claims

SBS’s own messageboards have also been used to share readers’ thoughts on the events of the past 24 hours.

Adam from the ACT spoke of his disbelief at the decision to carry out the raid – and at Israel’s justification for it:

“Israeli commandos undertake a pirate raid on an unarmed charity mission in international waters, and it’s somehow self-defence?

“This act flouts every international law and is utterly despicable. I used to support Israel, but nobody can justify this. “

Meanwhile, Milali from ‘Goldy’ said it was difficult for most Australians to share a real understanding of the circumstances surrounding the raid.

“I think its difficult to put into perspective when we live in a quiet safe country. If I lived in a country where mortars could blow me up at any minute I think I would see this issue differently.

‘Human shields’ on boats

“It looks like the Israelis were provoked and it just seems like there is big business involved here making sure the war machine rolls on in the Mid East.”

And Tim from ‘Brissy’ did not have much sympathy for the Australian injured in the raid, explaining: “When you place yourself in harm’s way you are accepting the risks.

“Civilian protesters boarded a ship as human shields and called Israel’s bluff. The bluff failed, and when the protest turned violent, soldiers did what they do best.

“I would like to say I feel sorry for my fellow Aussie but you wanted to be a human shield: mission accomplished.”

Within hours of the raid, those angry at Israel were using the internet to set up rallies.

Israeli Noa Yachot urged her Facebook friends to join a protest at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, warning them: “Don’t bring anything sharp lest the heavily-armed security forces fear for their lives and open fire”.

British-Israeli Alex Stein, who has previously served in the Israeli army, posted on Facebook that he was “increasingly convinced that Israel is being run by Iranian agents”.


Comment: Jellyfish born in space aren’t happy on Earth

By Rebecca Helm, Brown University

Why send jellyfish to space? Well, because it’s awesome which is true of anything involving space.


But mostly because of little crystals that they keep in their bodies, and what these crystals can tell us about long-term human space travel.

When a jellyfish grows, it forms calcium sulfate crystals at the margin of its body (termed a bell). These crystals are surrounded by a little cell pocket, coated in specialised hairs, which are equally spaced around the bell. When jellyfish turn, the crystals roll down with gravity to the bottom of the pocket, moving the cell hairs, which in turn send signals to nerve cells. In this way, jellyfish are able to sense their way up and down. All they need for this to happen is gravity.

Humans have gravity sensing structures too, and therein lies the crux: in space with no gravity, will these structures grow normally? If humans ever want to colonise places in deep space, then we may need to have kids in zero gravity. Will these kids develop normal gravity sensing, even after growing up without it?

For jellyfish, at least, things aren’t so good. After developing in space, these astronaut jellyfish have a hard life back on Earth. While development of the sensory pockets appears normal, many more jellies had trouble getting around once on the planet, including pulsing and movement abnormalities, compared to their Earth-bound counterparts.


Weightlessness, it’s my thing.


Human gravity sensing isn’t exactly like that of jellyfish, but it’s close. The human inner ear contains both fluids and small crystals, which tell us not only the angle of our head, but also our forward momentum. Even with these differences, there is enough similarity between the two systems to be cause for concern. In other words, if jellyfish babies have trouble gravity sensing on Earth after being in space, human babies may be in trouble too.

Human births in space could mean a lifetime of Earthly confusion. Long term space travel will be fraught with developmental challenges to the babies growing onboard. If the jellyfish say growing up in space isn’t so great, we better be listening.

First published on DeepSeaNews.

Rebecca Helm does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

2019年8月17日 上海性息

US default ‘almost inconceivable’: Hockey

Financial markets are becoming more confident that US politicians will secure a deal to avoid a US government debt default that could threaten the world economy.


US Senate leaders in Washington were reportedly close on Monday to an agreement to raise their country’s $US16.7 trillion ($A17.64 trillion) borrowing limit before the October 17 deadline.

There have been repeated disappointments during a political standoff that has left the US government in partial shutdown for two weeks, but Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey remains fairly confident that a deal will be done.

Mr Hockey, who is still in the US following last week’s Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting, told CNBC television that a default was “almost inconceivable”.

“The world needs America and America needs the world,” he said.

“I think it is that second part that has been lost to some in Congress.”

He said the Australian government has contingency plans in place should the US suffer a “heart attack”.

“Certainly we have back pocket plans to deal with whatever arises over the next few weeks as a result of negotiations,” he said.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) October 1 board meeting minutes released on Tuesday showed it had concerns over the uncertain US budget environment.

The central bank left open the option of further cutting the cash rate, which already sits at an all-time low of 2.5 per cent.

It said there had been two developments over the past month: the appreciation of the exchange rate and the pick up in measures of both consumer and business confidence.

“It was difficult to know how significant the effects of either of these developments would be, partly because it was uncertain whether they would be sustained,” the minutes said.

It noted the Australian dollar had appreciated significantly against the US dollar when the US Federal Reserve refrained from an expected tightening in monetary policy, but said the currency was still about 10 per cent lower than a peak in April.

The currency struck a four-month high of 95.35 US cents on Tuesday, more than a cent higher than at the time of the board meeting.

The minutes said recent data confirmed that overall Australia growth had been below trend.

Even so, the board believes the effect of low interest rates was evident across a range of indicators and had further to run, noting increased house prices and signs of a coming pick up in dwelling investment.

RBC Capital Markets head of strategy Su-Lin Ong pushed back the timing of an expected rate cut from December to the June quarter 2014.

“The cash rate is likely to remain at an historical low throughout 2014 – and possibly longer – regardless of whether the RBA delivers one final cut or not,” she said in a note to clients.


SBW left out of Kiwis for warm-up game

Star second-rower Sonny Bill Williams hasn’t been named in the Kiwis team for their World Cup warm-up match against the Cook Islands in Doncaster.


Coach Stephen Kearney has named an 18-man squad for the international on Sunday, which doesn’t carry Test status, choosing to leave out his six players who were involved in the recent NRL grand final.

That includes Manly Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran and five players from the champion Sydney Roosters side – wing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and forwards Williams, Sam Moa, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

It means Williams will probably make his international rugby league return when they play the opening match of their World Cup title defence against Samoa in Warrington on October 27.

The 28-year-old dual international hasn’t played for the Kiwis since 2008 and was a controversial late inclusion in the touring party in place of Melbourne Storm second-rower Tohu Harris after making himself available following the official squad announcement.

The team to face the Cook Islands will be captained by Simon Mannering, one of seven Warriors players in the squad, including halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai.

Mannering and Leuluai are the most experienced members of the squad with 30 Tests each.


Josh Hoffman, Jason Nightingale, Krisnan Inu, Dean Whare, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Simon Mannering (capt), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn, Kevin Locke, Bryson Goodwin


Fresh injury blows for Wallabies

Australia’s hopes of breaking a 12-year winless drought in New Zealand have been dealt another major blow, with wingers Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia ruled out of Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.


The Wallabies have already lost centre and goalkicker Christian Lealiifano and in-form flanker Scott Fardy for the dead rubber clash in Dunedin and the latest injury setbacks on the wing add to an already extensive unavailable list out wide.

Although the Dunedin clash is a dead rubber affair, pride is on the line for the Wallabies as they look to put a disappointing Rugby Championship behind them and take momentum into next month’s spring tour.

Tomane and Queensland flyer Feauai-Sautia both have hamstring injuries, but are expected to be available for the Wallabies’ opening match against England on November 2.

The loss of Tomane is the most significant for coach Ewen McKenzie, given the rugby league convert starred in Australia’s last-start demolition of Argentina, scoring a try and setting up another.

Waratahs winger Peter Betham has been added to the Wallabies’ 24-man squad for the Dunedin match, but Nick Cummins, himself returning from a broken hand, shapes as the frontrunner to replace Tomane.

The injury dramas have added to selection headaches for McKenzie since he took over as Wallabies coach, with Digby Ioane (French rugby), James O’Connor (discipline) and Henry Speight (eligibility) all unavailable.

Last week McKenzie was forced to move Adam Ashley-Cooper from his outside centre position to fill a void on the flanks and if Cummins isn’t selected to start, the rookie Test coach will have to consider shifting Israel Folau to the wing and putting Bernard Foley at fullback.

Matt Toomua is set to replace Lealiifano at No.12 and Ben McCalman tipped to come in for Fardy.

The All Blacks are without backline stars Dan Carter and Conrad Smith, but will still have the Australians well-and-truly beaten for experience out wide.

Prop James Slipper is renowned for his work rate and speed across the ground, but he admits his career will be defined by his consistency at scrum time.

Australia struggled to match South Africa and New Zealand at the set piece throughout the Rugby Championship, but the forwards have a chance to prove they’ve made progress against the All Blacks.

Slipper, 24, has been earmarked as the future of the Wallabies front row.

He’s a favourite of coach McKenzie, because his pace, power and workhorse qualities give the Wallabies the equivalent of a fourth backrower at the breakdown.

“As we all know, scrummaging is the No.1 priority job for a front rower,” Slipper said.

“I do feel like our scrum is an improvement throughout the year and for me personally, I feel like I’m getting through a lot of work around the field. But obviously scrums and the set piece is my first job.

“I still feel like I’m at the start of my career. This year has been great to have an opportunity to start a few games. I’m pretty happy with my form.”


Toyota to cuts jobs and slash costs

Toyota will axe up to 100 jobs and must slash the cost of building cars in Australia to ensure the future of its local manufacturing operations.


The company will call for voluntary redundancies at its Altona plant in Melbourne, where it currently employs about 2500 people, with the jobs to be go by the end of November.

In December it will cut production from 470 to 430 vehicles a day in response to a major fall in demand from the Middle East.

Toyota has recently built about 100,000 cars a year in Australia with 70 per cent of those destined for export markets.

The job losses are another blow to Australia’s struggling auto sector and put further pressure on the federal government to maintain or even increase financial support.

More worrying is Toyota’s need to cut the cost of building each car in Australia by $3800 by 2018 in order for its local manufacturing to remain viable.

Executive vice president Dave Buttner says Toyota has a long-term vision to continue as a local producer but must make savings.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard to reduce our overall cost base,” Mr Buttner said.

“That’s the key to our ongoing sustainability as a manufacturer.”

Toyota has not asked the federal government for more financial assistance and will work with the commonwealth on key issues affecting the automotive sector.

Cost cuts made so far will allow Toyota Australia to proceed with the next facelifts on its current cars, both for the domestic and export markets.

Its next hurdle is to secure the next generation of locally-manufactured product.

“Because of the long-term nature and lead times in our industry, those decisions will be happening some time throughout 2014,” Mr Buttner said.

Toyota’s latest job cuts follow a move by the company to axe 350 jobs in April last year, Holden’s decision to cut 400 jobs earlier this year amid ongoing fears for the future of its local operations, and Ford’s plan to close its manufacturing operations by 2016.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the job losses were “terrible news” for an industry that was doing it tough but was vital to Australia and deserved ongoing assistance.

Labor industry spokesman Kim Carr said the cuts should remind the government of the cost pressures facing the car industry.

“If we want to see major employers like our car makers stay in business, providing jobs for Australians, we need to back them,” he said.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the federal government remained committed to working with the car industry on the challenges it faced and said the government’s plans for a productivity commission review of the sector were proceeding.

“This is a difficult time for affected workers at Toyota,” he said.


Crown keen to talk casinos with Qld

James Packer’s Crown is keen for details on Queensland’s plans for up to three new mega casinos as the sunshine state chases a bigger slice of the Asian gambling dollar.


Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie has welcomed the announcement by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, and said he looked forward to seeing details of an expressions of interest process for new licences.

“Queensland is renowned globally for its incredible natural environment and climate,” Mr Craigie said in a statement.

“Investing in new attractions like integrated resorts will help ensure the state is more competitive with other global tourism destinations, many of which are already investing large sums to increase their tourism appeal.

“Crown is already participating in the consultation process around the future use of the William Street-government precinct in Brisbane which to us is an appealing site.”

Mr Newman has called for expressions of interest for a second Brisbane casino licence as part of the redevelopment of the Brisbane government precinct.

He says building a resort-style casino, and potentially another two in other parts of the state, is the best way to compete with other Asian tourist destinations.

Crown’s rival, Echo Entertainment, already operates casinos in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

Crown does not operate a casino in Queensland, but owns Melbourne and Perth complexes, and is negotiating the development of a VIP-casino and resort in Sydney.

Echo on Tuesday issued a statement, stating it had strong interest for some time in the government administration precinct in Brisbane.

“We look forward to the commencement of the expression of interest process later in the year as announced by the Queensland state government yesterday,” an Echo spokesperson said in a statement.

Echo Entertainment’s Treasury Casino licence in Brisbane expires in 2070, and Crown has expressed interest in such a licence, Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Wilson said.

“The government is seeking a proposal for an integrated development that is likely to include hotel, retail and entertainment precincts as well as a casino,” he said.

“The EOI (expression of interest) process will commence by the end of the year and the government will also seek interest from Asia and North America.

“The government may also offer two other casino licences for major integrated resort developments elsewhere in Queensland and locations could include the Gold Coast as part of the Broadwater Marine Project and Cairns.”

He said the threat of more competition for Echo in Queensland would weigh on its share price.

Crown’s shares on Tuesday were 59 cents, or 3.72 per cent, higher at $16.44, while Echo’s shares had lost 13 cents, or 4.78 per cent at $2.59.

2019年7月17日 上海性息

Phillip Island braces for Stoner-free era

Stoner, who pushed his Honda to a record sixth straight victory at Phillip Island last year before bowing out of the sport at the age of 27, will hit the bucolic seaside circuit again but only for an honorary lap with fellow Australian world title-winners Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner.


Stoner’s valedictory appearance lured a bumper race-day crowd of 55,000 last year, with leather-clad enthusiasts riding thousands of miles from distant states to farewell the local hero whose family sold their farm to finance his boyhood dream.

Organisers will be happy with 40,000 turning up this year and have pinned their hopes on 20-year-old Marc Marquez’s bid to become the youngest world champion – and a forecast of sunshine at Phillip Island’s notoriously changeable weather.

“It’ll be tougher without Casey Stoner here, we had an unbelievable strong amount of revenue growth from Casey Stoner’s decision to retire last year but that will be difficult to match,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) CEO Andrew Westacott told Reuters in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“Because if we’re not getting the same level of attendance, we’re going to be short of revenue.”

Australia’s appetite for world class sport and major events has seen motorcycling’s premier championship make a stop Down Under since 1989, with Phillip Island hosting a race for all but six of the years.

Like the higher-profile Formula One race held at Albert Park circuit a two hour drive up the road to Melbourne, the MotoGP has long been subsidised by taxpayers, albeit far less controversially than the four-wheel race which has posted losses of above A$50 million ($47.40 million) in recent years.

As boss of both races, Westacott has one of the toughest jobs in Australian sport, caught between government officials determined to reap political capital from hosting prestigious events while demanding organisers cut costs.

The AGPC managed to trim the loss for last year’s Australian MotoGP – which it termed “government investment” in its annual report – to A$5.95 million from the previous year’s A$6.59 million, a decrease of about 10 percent.


The annual report budgeted for another decrease in the taxpayer outlay to A$5.24 million for this year’s race, but Westacott suggested it would be difficult to boost last year’s revenues of $12.6 million without the Stoner factor.

Little wonder the nation still pines for the hard-bitten rider, who signed off disillusioned with the tour and has spent this season repeatedly denying he is set for a comeback.

World champion for Ducati in 2007 and for Honda four years later, Stoner has since had an unsuccessful stint in the second tier of Australian V8 Supercar racing, driving on a one-year contract for Red Bull, and said last month he would take a break from the competition.

He fuelled speculation of a return to motorcycling by agreeing to test for Honda earlier this year but the team made it clear there were no plans for him to ride as a wildcard at any races this season.

Both Gardner, Australia’s first premier class champion in 1987, and five-time champion Doohan have speculated Stoner will change his mind.

“He could be on a bike as early as next year if he wanted to be,” Doohan told an Australian MotoGP podcast this week.

“He still knows how to ride and he’s still young enough. He’s an immensely talented rider so anything’s possible – but if he was going to come back, 2015 is going to have to be the year. Anything beyond that, it’s going to get more difficult.”

Westacott was also keen to apply gentle pressure.

“Casey makes his own decisions, he always has… I’d say wait and see what happens next year,” he said.

Boasting at least one premier class world title winner in each of the past three decades, Australia has punched above its weight in elite motorcycling, but may be set for a fallow period if Stoner keeps his distance.

Local enthusiasts will hope 18-year-old Queenslander Jack Miller, who has shown promise in the Moto3 category, can continue his improvement with Red Bull KTM after signing with the champion team last month.

“Local talent is important in any sport,” Westacott said.

“Successful Aussies bring bigger crowds whether it’s tennis, cricket, rugby union or even the Socceroos. MotoGP’s no exception.

“We’ve gone through the Gardner era, the Stoner era, the Doohan era. There’s youngsters like Jack Miller. Maybe we’ve got the Jack Miller era coming.”

($1 = 1.0550 Australian dollars)

(Editing by John O’Brien)


Telstra defends job cuts amid AGM protest

The rising use of online transactions could mean next time you call Telstra, you’ll be less likely to hear a local voice.


Telstra chief David Thodey told the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday that 40 per cent of customer transactions were completed online in 2013.

That compares with 30 per cent in 2012.

“This means our contact centre work is declining quickly and will continue to do so,” he said in Sydney.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says Telstra is replacing local staff with overseas workers at a rapid rate.

The union points to the telco’s decision to shed 1100 jobs from its Australian operations department by June 2014.

It also claims there are at least 10,250 people working offshore on Telstra business “on any one shift”.

A handful of Telstra staff and CPSU members used the company’s AGM to protest against recent job cuts and offshoring.

The union’s Teresa Davison says Telstra’s use of funds from the public purse means it’s responsible to taxpayers as well as shareholders.

Telstra said the business was changing to focus on increased productivity.

“While we have proposed that parts of our operations workforce reduce by around 1100 jobs by June next year, we have made other announcements that could see close to 1000 jobs added in other areas,” spokesman Scott Whiffen said in a statement.

Telstra worker John Bellingham’s job is safe for now but he turned out in support of dumped and at-risk colleagues.

“His job is likely to go to India,” Mr Bellingham said, referring to a colleague.

“He was talking to me to see if there was any jobs in my section.

“I don’t know if it’s something he’d be able to slot into but I put his name forward.”

The union believes shareholders are concerned about the welfare of Telstra staff, but shareholder Vince Smith said he wasn’t fully abreast of the job cuts and was concerned about share prices.

“I’m always concerned about job costs and I’m also … hoping the share price will go up,” he said on his way into the meeting.

“I bought in at $7 and now it seems like the company is kind of struggling.”

Telstra shares added seven cents to $5 on Tuesday.


Plibersek gets Burke’s disappointment

New federal Labor deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek understands that some senior MPs are disappointed they didn’t make it to the new opposition frontbench.


But she doesn’t accept claims the shadow ministry was being decided by a “couple of blokes”, pointing to the inclusion of 11 women.

With Labor getting ready for the return of parliament in the second week of November, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will reveal on Friday who gets which portfolios before Monday’s shadow cabinet meeting.

Victorian MP Anna Burke lashed out at factional power plays within caucus, saying she was “bitter and disappointed” at losing out on the position of chief opposition whip because of “a couple of blokes sitting round a room carving up the spoils”.

“I think Anna’s very focused on the half empty at the moment,” Ms Plibersek said on Tuesday.

“She’s speaking from a place of disappointment … she feels like she’s been overlooked.”

Ms Burke retains her position of Speaker until her Liberal successor Bronwyn Bishop is formally installed.

Her comments were followed by reports another senior Labor MP, Senator Jacinta Collins, was also disappointed at being overlooked, particularly by her own Victorian Right faction.

Although Ms Plibersek said she would meet Ms Burke to discuss her concerns, new Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said factions were a reality in all political parties.

“I think there was a broad cross section of people that were selected, and it’s probably a pretty reasonable line-up,” she said.

However, the former West Australian government minister said there could be improvements.

“It has been accepted that we must continually strive to do things better and in a more inclusive way,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Another Victorian Labor MP, Brendan O’Connor, said the opposition frontbench was far more representative compared to the coalition’s under Tony Abbott.

“We have almost four times the number of women in our ministry,” he said.


Snitching bikies can avoid long jail terms

Bikie gang members can avoid the extraordinary jail terms threatened by new laws in Queensland if they turn informer.


The laws being rushed through state parliament will hand bikies engaging in serious criminal activity such as murder or dangerous drug possession an extra 15 years of mandatory jail time.

The penalties for bikie gang office bearers are even harsher: an extra 25 years on top of their initial sentence.

And those sentences could be served in a special maximum security jail which the government has proposed to specifically house the state’s worst bikie criminals.

But in what Premier Campbell Newman says will be an effective way to gather intelligence, jail time will be waived if an offender gives authorities information about bikie gangs and their criminal activities.

“The only way they can get off those additional mandatory penalties is essentially to provide information that’s of use to the police to help bring down the gang,” Mr Newman said.

The government was also seeking royal assent to list all bikie gangs as criminal organisations, including the Finks, the Rebels, the Bandidos and the Hells Angels.

If a new gang is created, the government can add them to the list based on police evidence.

Mandatory prison sentences, laws banning bikies from owning, operating and working in tattoo parlours and hefty jail terms for assaulting police are the first anti-bikie laws the Newman government are expected to pass in parliament on Tuesday night.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said it would be up to jurors to determine whether an offender was a member of a criminal gang, or a “vicious lawless associate.”

“Where you may currently under law face a five-year sentence (for grievous bodily harm), it can potentially be a 25 to 30-year sentence (for gang members),” he told reporters.

“This is where the deterrent kicks in.”

Mr Newman said severe penalties would also apply to three or more gang members caught gathering together.

“We are going to make every effort to completely destroy these gangs. We are not joking,” Mr Newman said.

The premier admitted gangs were well-resourced and he expected legal challenges in the High Court, but said the government had been very careful and the Solicitor General heavily involved in drafting the laws.

Criminologists and critics fear the government’s taking it too far.

Former Gold Coast detective Terry Goldsworthy says the proposed laws are unfair, and set a dangerous new precedent for double standards in Queensland.

He says there’s now one set of rules to deal with bikies who commit crimes, and another set for others who commit exactly the same offences.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman says the bikie jail wouldn’t work as there’s no evidence to back the government’s claim bikies are using their jail time to recruit members, peddle drugs and intimidate prison staff.

“If there is a problem, concentrating them in one area is bound to magnify the problem if there is indeed a problem,” Mr O’Gorman told AAP.

The state opposition said the laws should have been reviewed by a parliamentary committee before being put to parliament.