Wednesday, January 9
US President Donald Trump’s much anticipated nationally televised address to once again pitch to the American people his concept of a “wall” at the border between the United States and Mexico turned out to be a bit of a fizzer.
Declaring that what was happening at the border was “a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul” he avoided taking the extreme step of declaring a national emergency.
Addressing the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Mr Trump argued for funding on security and humanitarian grounds as he sought to put pressure on newly empowered Democrats amid an extended partial Government shutdown.
Mr Trump called on Democrats to return to the White House to meet with him, saying it was “immoral” for “politicians to do nothing”.
Previous meetings have led to no agreement.
“As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $US5.7 billion for a physical barrier,” he said.
“At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.
“This barrier is absolutely critical to border security.
“Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis.”
Responding in their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Mr Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed Government departments and turn loose paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers.
Senator Schumer said Mr Trump “just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration”.
Pauline Hanson’s solution to the cane problem is a rehash of something suggested years ago and which didn’t work, say experts.
Senator Hanson wants people paid 10c for every cane toad they collect
Ecologists say the idea is old and all the evidence shows programs like this don’t work
The experts say the toads breed too quickly and the focus should be on tadpole eradication
Ms Hanson has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to fund a three-month summer program, that would see those who collect cane toads financially rewarded, similar to the container deposit scheme.
Senator Hanson wrote that a 10 cent reward … “would encourage most Australians living with the pest to take an active roll in reducing their numbers”.
But ecologist Rick Shine said it would not work because of the rate at which the pest breeds.
“There’s tens of thousands of them being hatched on the next rainy night that the toads decide to start fooling around with each other,” he said.
“This has been suggested hundreds of times and anyone who’s ever thought about it for very long decides it’s a terrible idea.”
A leading expert in cane toad eradication, Mr Shine said millions of dollars had already been spent by governments and community groups on similar plans, which have had no success.
“It hasn’t had any impact on the long-term impact on the numbers of toads, so we’ve actually got the hard evidence to say it simply doesn’t work,” he said.
Professor Rob Capon from the University of Queensland said it was an old, rehashed idea which could never logistically work.
“Who’s going to collect the toads? Are they alive, are they dead? Who’s going to take receipt of them?” he asked.
“The public are happy to do this for free right now and the truth is if you translate the 10 cents per toad down to an hourly rate, you know you’re offering to pay people one or two dollars an hour to go and catch toads.”
Child sex offenders could have their names and photos uploaded to a public register to enable parents to see if any lived near their homes or local schools.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has written to states and territories urging them to support his proposal for a national database.
The move is being described as the “toughest crackdown on paedophiles” in Australian history.
“Thwarting the exploitation of children is my key priority as Minister for Home Affairs,” Mr Dutton said.
“I have always fought for the protection of children and this is a battle that we must win.”
Details that could be included on the website include an offender’s name, date of birth, photo, the nature of their offending, and their general location, such as their postcode.
States and territories would feed information into the national database, meaning the Commonwealth would need their support.
In Western Australia, people can search for dangerous and high-risk offenders who live in the suburb and adjoining suburbs.
The Minister said although certain jurisdictions already released some information, a national system would stop paedophiles evading public scrutiny.
“It would have a strong deterrent effect on offenders and ensure that parents are not in the dark about whether a registered sex offender has access to their children,” Mr Dutton said.
Offenders under the age of 18 would not have their details on the register.
Crossbench senator and former broadcaster Derryn Hinch has long campaigned for a public paedophile register.
“I can die happy, this is the only reason I got into politics,” Senator Hinch said of the announcement.
He said any new legislation should be known as ‘Daniel’s Law’ — named after Queensland 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe, who was abducted and murdered by sex offender Brett Cowan in 2003.
While welcoming the plan, the Justice Party representative said it should go further and include offenders’ addresses.