Daily News Roundup

July 2, 2019

TUESDAY, JULY 2

At a time when portions of the Great Barrier Reef are being devastated by coral decline, Southern Cross University doctoral researcher Kay Davis has found an island near Gladstone has experienced remarkable coral growth.

One Tree Island was lashed by Cyclone Hamish in 2009, destroying much of the island’s coral.

In the five years following the cyclone, no metabolic recovery was detected on the reef and by 2014 calcification of the coral had declined by 75 per cent.

But things changed dramatically between 2014 and 2017, when Ms Davis and her team at the National Marine Science Centre found the coral system calcification increased four-fold.

“We found that the coral ecosystem has completely recovered from this cyclone event after eight years,” Ms Davis said.

“It wasn’t what we were expecting at all.”

The new research was published this month in Frontiers in Marine Science open-source journal with Ms Davis as the lead author.

Ms Davis had expected the declining health of the reef to continue due to ocean acidification inhibiting coral recovery.

Instead the coral is doing better now than it was when it was first studied in the 1970s.

“Not only is calcification of the reef recovering, there was a visible increase in the amount of coral as well; with coral cover increasing by 30 to 40 per cent.”

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s praying for missing Perth man Alek Sigley, with authorities struggling to ascertain new information into his disappearance in North Korea.

“I’m seeking and receiving regular updates but in the absence of those, and indeed regardless of those, prayer is my response,” he said.

Mr Morrison made the comments outside a Canberra church, which hosted a service to mark the opening of the 46th Parliament.

Mr Sigley’s family hasn’t heard from him since early last week, which it regards as highly unusual.

“This morning there are many prayers and I must say my prayers this morning are for Alek Sigley and his family,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is a troubling and concerning situation and we are using every effort to locate him and hopefully bring him home safely.”

The 29-year-old speaks fluent Korean and began studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang last year.

He married his Japanese wife Yuka Morinaga in a ceremony in Pyongyang last year.

Australia’s diplomatic presence in North Korea is limited, although consular assistance can be provided by other nations.

Mr Morrison discussed Mr Sigley’s disappearance with other world leaders at a G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, last week.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) official travel advice states there is a “high level of risk” and recommends Australian’s reconsider their need to visit North Korea.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to introduce religious discrimination laws into parliament this year after consulting with Labor on the design of the promised act.

In an interview on 7.30, Mr Morrison said he wanted to talk to his Coalition colleagues about the scope of the laws, as well as the Opposition.

“I’m catching up with the leader of the Opposition this week,” Mr Morrison said.

He said he would raise a “number of issues” with Anthony Albanese where he thought the two major parties could work together.

Asked whether the laws would shield someone like Israel Folau from being sacked for the remarks he made on social media, Mr Morrison said he was reluctant to comment on the Folau case because it would soon be before the courts.

But Mr Morrison said generally employers needed to have “reasonable” expectations of their employees.

He said there was a balance to be struck, but employers should not “impinge on areas of private practice and private belief”.

The Government has signalled the religious discrimination act will be similar to Australia’s other discrimination laws, which protect people from being disadvantaged — mostly in the employment space — because of their age, race, gender, sexuality or disability.

Mr Morrison said he hoped the debate would be “sensible” and “adult”, and not derailed by “extreme examples”.

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