THURSDAY, February 14
An official inquiry has been launched into a fist fight in Federal Parliament last night between United Australia Party Senator Brian Burston and Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff.
The stoush erupted after Senator Hanson on Tuesday night used parliamentary privilege to accuse an unnamed senator of sexually harassing at least six staff.
Senator Burston said there was “no doubt” she was referring to him and fired off a string of his own accusations that Senator Hanson had sexually harassed him and was a factor in him quitting One Nation last year to join Clive Palmer’s new party.
Images taken last night during the altercation appear to show Senator Hanson’s office door smeared with streaks of blood.
Senate President Scott Ryan has launched an urgent investigation into the clash between Senator Burston and James Ashby outside a dinner at Parliament House.
“We will be looking into this matter as a matter of urgency. We both regard this as a grave matter,” Senator Ryan told parliament on Thursday after discussing the matter with the House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith..
The Senate president said if he didn’t report back to parliament on Thursday for legal reasons, he would aim to address an estimates hearing on Monday.
“At this stage I have received no formal information on it but we will be chasing this up in the course of this morning and I plan to speak to senators involved,” Senator Ryan said.
Mr Ashby filmed Senator Burston in the lead-up to the altercation, which left the One Nation defector with a bandaged hand when he arrived at work on Thursday.
Senator Hanson laughed off Senator Burston’s sexual harassment allegations, saying she’s “not that desperate”.
The Federal Government has announced that teaching graduates will not have to repay their university debts if they teach in remote communities, under a new plan to boost Indigenous education outcomes.
The multi-million-dollar initiative came as the latest scorecard on Indigenous disadvantage revealed most targets were still off track, said
Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivering his first Closing the Gap statement today.
The report showed the early education target was on track, along with the Year 12 attainment goal.
“The progress may not be fast enough or far enough but … we do always need to mark what’s been accomplished,” Mr Morrison told Parliament.
To improve education outcomes, the Commonwealth has vowed to waive the student debts of teachers who spend four years working in very remote communities.
More than 3,000 teachers and nearly 300 schools are expected to benefit.
“We want to get the very best teachers to go there,” Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion told AM.
“That we know is a policy that is going to work.
“We think, and we know, that the quality of the teachers is absolutely important to getting that literacy and numeracy right.”
Labor frontbencher Linda Burney said the Prime Minister’s HECS announcement ignored the fact 79 per cent of Indigenous people lived in urban areas.
“Yes, the issues in remote communities are shocking and they need to be addressed, but the Prime Minister and this Government ignore the fact that two-thirds of Aboriginal people actually live in urban environments,” she said.
Organisations supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students will also receive a $177 million boost.
In a fitting result, a hairy little dog called King has been named top dog in the US.
King, a wire fox terrier won Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, emerging as the best dog among nearly 3000 barking, tail-wagging competitors.
King, captured the most coveted prize at the two-day event at Madison Square Garden, beating challengers from all 50 US states and 14 countries. The competition drew 2,800 dogs from 203 breeds and varieties.
He won the terrier group and claimed the top trophy over finalists from five other groups.
King is the first terrier to be named Best in Show since Sky, also a wire fox terrier, won in 2010.
But terriers are the most dominant group in Westminster history: Beginning with Warren Remedy, who was named Best in Show in each of the first three years of competition from 1907-1909, terriers have now claimed the top spot 47 times.
“That’s one of the breeds I know really well,” said the Best in Show judge, Peter Green.
“And (King) is as good as it gets. Everything about it … the head, the expression. Everything is really, really as good as it gets. And then the handler has him in perfect condition.”
Wire fox terriers in specific have been Westminster’s dominant breed, with King the 15th to win Best of Show.
“I’m just relieved,” said the terrier’s handler, Gabriel Rangel, a three-time winner of Best in Show. “I’m very proud of him, particularly.”
The runner-up was a Havanese named Bono, after the U2 singer. No Havanese has ever won the competition.
Bono’s handler, Taffe McFadden, is married to Bill McFadden, the handler for last year’s Best in Show, a Bichon Frise named Flynn.
Joining the terrier and Havanese in the finals were a longhaired dachshund named Burns (hound group); a Bouviers des Flandres (herding group) named Baby Lars, the first of his breed to win the group; a Sussex spaniel named Bean (sporting group), who won his group for the second year in a row; and a boxer named Wilma (working group).
The crowd at Madison Square Garden saved its loudest cheers for the dachshund, another breed which has yet to claim Best in Show honors across 142 years of competition. Burns was the second dachshund to win his group, following his grandfather, Ben, who did so in 1998.
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