TUESDAY, March 26
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has been sprung seeking foreign funding from a powerful US gun lobby to wind back Australia’s gun laws.
An investigation by world-wide news agency Al Jazeera caught party officials on hidden cameras soliciting the funds at meetings in the US in an elaborate “sting”.
Secret recordings of senior One Nation figures revealed the party wanted millions of dollars in political donations from America’s National Rifle Association (NRA) and discussed softening its policies on gun ownership as it tried to secure the funding.
The revelations have sparked nationwide outrage with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying he was deeply concerned by the reports.
The prime minister has stressed Australia’s gun laws are not being weakened, after the claims emerged through the Al Jazeera undercover investigation.
“Australia’s gun laws are world’s best thanks to (former Prime Minister) John Howard and we will not be changing them,” he posted on Twitter.
One Nation’s Queensland party leader Steve Dickson and Senator Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby made the case for funding in meetings with pro-gun groups in the US, the investigation reveals.
The groups included the National Rifle Association of America and Koch Industries – America’s second largest privately held company, which has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative political causes.
One Nation has referred the news report to police and intelligence services.
The investigation, features a recording of a meeting in Washington DC last September, captured by an undercover journalist.
In it, Mr Dickson tells NRA officials that for the world to look to Australia as a model for gun control would be “poison”.
“If we don’t change things, people are going to be looking at Australia and go ‘well, it’s OK for them to go down the path of not having guns, it’s OK for them to go down that politically-correct path’,” he says.
“It will poison us all unless we stop it.”
Mr Ashby is also heard saying on a separate occasion that $US20 million in donations to One Nation would give the party parliamentary influence in Australia.
“If you had 20 [$US20 million], you would own the lower house and the upper house,” he says in the recording.
Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham called on Senator Hanson to front media on Tuesday to explain the “sickening” report.
He said the idea of rolling back Australia’s gun laws seemed remarkable in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, in which a lone shooter allegedly motivated by right-wing extremism killed 50 people at two mosques.
The NRA meeting came not long before legislation cleared federal parliament in November banning foreign donations.
Al Jazeera’s two-part documentary will be shown on the ABC on Tuesday and Thursday, and is available online.
A British Airways passenger jet taking people from London to Germany landed in Edinburgh, Scotland, instead.
And it wasn’t the pilot’s fault. He was just following the flight plan, including the wrong destination, filed by WDL Aviation.
Passenger Sophie Cooke said after landing in Edinburgh, the pilot made an announcement, asking passengers to raise their hands if they wanted to go to Dusseldorf.
Everyone raised their hands, according to Ms Cooke.
“The pilot said he had no idea how it had happened,” she said.
British Airways said the problem started when an incorrect flight plan was filed by WDL Aviation, which operated the flight on behalf of the airline.
A British Airways spokesperson told the BBC the plane had flown to Edinburgh the day before so the “involuntary stopover” may have been due to the flight plan being repeated by mistake.
Ms Cooke said the plane was on the tarmac in Scotland for close to two hours.
Pregnant women should avoid working night shifts because those who work two or more such shifts a week have an increased risk of miscarriage, a new study has found.
The study was published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine (OEM) an international peer reviewed journal covering current developments in occupational and environmental health worldwide.
OEM is the official journal of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of London.
The report said its research showed that after the eighth week of pregnancy, women working two or more shifts per week have a 32 per cent higher risk of miscarriage compared with women who are not working night shifts.
The risk of miscarriage increased with the number of night shifts worked per week and also by numbers of consecutive shifts.
The authors say women working at night are exposed to artificial light, which disrupts their circadian rhythm and decreases the release of melatonin.
The hormone regulates sleep-wake cycles and has been shown to be important in maintaining a successful pregnancy, possibly by preserving the function of the placenta, the report said.
However, they said the study is observational and can’t establish the cause of the miscarriages.
About 14 per cent of women in Europe work at night at least once a month and the findings could have ramifications for workplace laws.
“The findings increase the knowledge about exposure to night work and have relevance for working pregnant women as well as their employers, physicians and midwives,” the report said.
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