Ireland will vote on legalising abortion in 2018 referendum

The Irish government is also planning votes to remove the country’s anti-blasphemy law and to reduce the time couples must spend apart before divorcing.


Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has previously said the eighth amendment of the constitution, which makes abortion illegal unless there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, was “too restrictive”.

His government decided on Tuesday a referendum – which must be agreed by parliament – should take place in May or June 2018 just before the pope visits in August to attend the World Meeting of Families.

Abortion has always been illegal in Ireland but was inserted into the constitution in 1983 following a referendum, in which 67 per cent of voters were in favour and 33 per cent against.

The eighth amendment recognises the equal right to life of the unborn child and the mother, and a woman convicted of having an illegal termination faces 14 years in prison.

However women are free to travel abroad for abortions and thousands do so every year, mainly to England.

Opinion polls in recent years have consistently indicated strong support for reform in Ireland, which remains largely Catholic but where scandals have dented the church’s authority.

Thousands of people are expected in Dublin on Saturday for the annual “March for Choice”, declaring: “We are ready for change.”

“We need access to free, safe and legal abortion for all who need or want it. And we need it now,” organisers said.

The Abortion Rights Campaign said it “cautiously” welcomed the announcement.

“It depends on the wording of the referendum,” spokeswoman Linda Kavanagh told AFP, fearing that it could be watered down from broad access to abortion. 

Meanwhile Cora Sherlock, spokeswoman of the Pro-Life Campaign, told AFP: “If the eighth amendment were to be amended or repealed, we would inevitably end up with a situation similar to every other country which introduced abortion on ‘restrictive’ grounds but subsequently ended up with abortion on wide-ranging grounds.”

Consideration by the people

The Irish constitution can only be amended by referendum, and in 2015 it became the first country to legalise gay marriage that way.

The government set out a timetable on Tuesday for several votes over the next two years, including on reducing the time couples must wait before a divorce from four to two years.

In October 2018, it proposes a referendum on the constitutional amendment which makes illegal the “publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter”.

At the same time, it proposes a vote to repeal or change a section relating to a woman’s duties in the home, perhaps to make it gender neutral and to include other caring responsibilities. 

“Any amendment to our constitution requires careful consideration by the people,” Varadkar said in a statement. 

“They should be given ample time to consider the issues and to take part in well-informed public debate,” he said.

“Setting a timetable for the referendums to be held over the next two years will allow all involved in campaigning on the issues to plan ahead and to facilitate that public debate.”

Wind, batteries in AGL Liddell exit plan

AGL Energy appears to be standing by its decision to close NSW’s ageing Liddell coal-fired power station, telling shareholders extending the life of Liddell would cost too much money, while a sale would be “challeginging” due to its complexity

AGL chief executive Andy Vesey has told the energy company’s annual general meeting AGL has been assessing options to replace Liddell since April, 2015 and is committed to present its plans to the Prime Minister and energy markets operator AMEO by early December.


He said AGL is confident that the plans will address supply and capacity concerns raised over the Liddell closure and result in the development of new, reliable and low-emissions energy supply.

“We are designing our plan to mitigate the impact of Liddell’s closure,” Mr Vesey told shareholders at the meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.

He said the bulk of energy lost from the forecast closure of Liddell in NSW in 2022 can come from wind power plants to be built in NSW and Queensland.

An upgrade of Liddell’s neighbouring Bayswater plant, new gas-fired power plants and battery storage will make up the balance of capacity in a plan Mr Vesey said will be presented to the federal government in December.

“It will address the 8 terawatt hours a year of energy that Liddell provides and the 1,000 megawatt reserve capacity shortfall AEMO has highlighted,” he said.

Mr Vesey reaffirmed AGL’s intention to move away from coal-fired generation.

“In the interests of reliability, affordability and meeting our obligations to reduce carbon emissions, we must begin the processs of renewal now.”

Mr Vesey said the Liddell site could be repurposed with gas-fired power or battery storage and no-one had more to lose from failing to mitigate the market impact of Liddell’s closure than AGL.

Mr Vesey said AGL’s commitment to exit coal does not hide from the fact that coal currently represents 86 per cent of AGL’s electricity generation and is likely to remain an integral part of AGL’s business for several decades.

The Turnbull government has pressured AGL to keep Liddell open beyond its scheduled 2022 shutdown or sell it to a new operator in order to shore up electricity supply

AGL chairman Jerry Maycock told the AGM that while it may be “technically possible” to extend the life of the 45-year-old plant the costs “are certain to be substantial” and selling it would be “challenging”.

Mr Maycock said the NSW government had intended to close Liddell in 2022 before AGL bought the power station from it in 2014.

New mission to stop breast cancer deaths

Understanding why some women are more at risk of dying from breast cancer than others is the focus of a major research project launched by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.


While breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates at 90 per cent, there are hundreds of women who still die within five years of being diagnosed with the disease.

Eight women in Australia die of breast cancer every day, statistics show.

Researchers at the Centre for Population Health Research at the University of South Australia will pull together all the data from hospitals, radiotherapy centres and tissue banks to help answer the question: Why are 10 per cent of women still not surviving beyond five years?

“What’s different about them and what can we do about it?” said Professor Ian Olver, a chief investigator on the project.

“If we can link all the data together, we can find out more about what puts people at greater risk of not doing well.”

The research, announced on Wednesday at the launch of the Pink Ribbon Breakfast fundraising campaign, will start in SA and then broaden nationally.

Some of the questions to be asked will examine survival outcomes for women living in rural towns and younger women.

Prof Olver says he’s “absolutely confident” of producing new data that will lead to tailored treatments and, ultimately, improved survival.

“What you do is look at the population to get your clues and then you can design very specific studies that will be able to translate into individual treatments, so you use the big data set and then you can design the studies then that are very specific to get answers for individual patients,” Prof Olver told AAP.

NBCF CEO Professor Sarah Hosking says they will use the information to identify any gaps in care and what changes the health system needs to do to fill them.

“Over the past 20 years, research has come so far in reducing deaths from breast cancer, but until we reach zero deaths we believe the job’s not done,” she said.

“NBCF will use this information to make data-driven decisions in setting research priorities that are focused on closing the gap on the last 10 per cent of breast cancer deaths and making it a better tomorrow for those affected.”

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign held in October for International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Funds raised this year will go towards research on the repurposing of an available drug to better treat metastatic breast cancer.

Trump praises relief effort in Puerto Rico

US President Donald Trump has hit back at complaints that he has been slow to provide relief for Puerto Rico, after the US territory was hit hard by Hurricane Maria.


Trump instead praised his administration for “doing a really good job” with disaster relief.

He said he would pay a visit on October 3 to Puerto Rico, as well as to the US Virgin Islands, a neighboring Caribbean territory struggling to recover from two major hurricanes in a single month.

Democratic leaders in Congress and some residents in Puerto Rico have accused the administration of being more sluggish in its response than it would to a disaster on the US mainland, even though Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million inhabitants are US citizens.

The criticism was heightened by a series of Twitter messages by Trump on Monday about hurricane damage on Puerto Rico in which he also referred to the island’s $72 billion debt crisis and bankruptcy.

“Much of the Island has been destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with,” he tweeted.

Maria roared ashore Puerto Rico last Wednesday as the most powerful hurricane to strike the island in nearly a century.

The storm has claimed more than 30 lives across the Caribbean, including at least 16 in Puerto Rico.

Maria was downgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday, far off the coast of North Carolina.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the island needed 1,000 to 1,500 additional security personnel and at least another 200 generators, as well as fuel for them.

“With all due respect, President Trump, relief efforts are not ‘doing well,'” Schumer said.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz strongly criticised Trump for focusing on the island’s financial woes in his tweets.

“You don’t put debt above people, you put people above debt,” she told CNN.

But Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said he was satisfied with the administration’s relief efforts and called Trump’s performance “excellent.”

“They have responded very quickly,” he said.

He cited swift disaster declarations issued by Trump and a six-month waiver of FEMA’s cost-sharing requirements.

Woman writes perfect ‘husband-proof’ shopping list

Era Golwalkar, a 29 year old IT specialist, began producing detailed and illustrated lists for her husband, Gaurav, to solve a weekly problem that was causing trouble in their marriage.



“After Gaurav and I got married three years ago we decided to split the household chores,” Era tells the BBC.

“Gaurav was very supportive and was ready to learn cooking [which is not common for a lot of men in India]. But there was one problem. I wasn’t aware of back then, he had no experience with anything related to cooking.

“When I first sent him to purchase vegetables, it was an epic fail and an argument ensued between us. The second time was no better. Nor was the third.”

This is the task I gave to my hubby last weekend!! Even U guys shud follow this list for happy customers #bigbasket #grofers #reliancefresh pic南京夜生活,/cGkPuRAvE9

— Era Londhe (@eralondhe) September 23, 2017

Era believes vegetable sellers starting taking advantage of her husband’s naivety, and began selling him spoiled and poor quality produce. 

To solve the problem, Era started sending Gaurav to the shops with meticulously written lists – including drawings of each item and size guides.

She explained he should select palak (spinach) without holes in it, long and straight mirchi (chillis), and bhindi (okra) that were not too soft and not too hard.

It was a success. Guarav returned from his shopping trips with the correct ingredients and the arguments stopped. 

When Era shared her list on social media, it quickly went viral.

Her tweet attracted more than 5,300 likes and was shared more than 1,200 times.

While many men have had a good laugh over list, Era realises not all of them would need a “husband-proof” list like this, “but mine did, so we found a solution”, she says.

“Looking at the reactions on social media, I’ve noticed that most married women globally are able to relate to this.”

And Guarav is happy with the outcome too.

“Now if I get something wrong, I have proof that it wasn’t in the specification and she can’t deny it,” he said.

Bailey under fire over corruption remarks

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey is under fire for claiming his constituents aren’t concerned about his tangles with the state’s corruption watchdog.


Mr Bailey returned to ministerial duties last week after the Crime and Corruption Commission found there were no grounds to prosecute him over his use and subsequent deletion of the private email account – [email protected]

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Bailey said the investigation hadn’t been a big issue for voters in his Brisbane seat.

“Most of my constituents saw it for what it was, and that was it was a political play in the rough old game of politics,” he told reporters.

“I’ve tremendous levels of support from my local constituents who realise it was not a significant issue whatsoever.”

Liberal National Party shadow treasurer Scott Emerson hit out at the comments and said they showed Mr Bailey did not belong in parliament.

“But (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk doesn’t have the leadership or the strength of leadership to make sure he’s not there,” he said.

“I think his comments today are disgraceful. The reality is he’s broken the ministerial code of conduct, but he just wants to dismiss it.”

The CCC spent six months investigating Mr Bailey after he deleted his Yahoo account in January, 10 days after The Australian filed a Right to Information request for emails it contained from Electrical Trades Union secretary Peter Simpson regarding a merger of union superannuation funds.

It forced Mr Bailey to reopen the account and the state archivist later found he would have required legal permission to delete 660 of the emails.

However, because the account had been recovered, it was found Mr Bailey did not breach the public records act.

Acting Premier Curtis Pitt said he was unaware of Mr Bailey’s comments but insisted the investigation into his actions was thorough.

“I’m not going to suggest that’s a trivial matter,” he said.

“It’s certainly a matter that has been widely canvassed in the public, it has been the subject of an investigation, and I think it speaks for itself.”

Ms Palaszczuk has said officials are working on a new set of guidelines around the use of communications platforms.

Murdoch, Gordon still mulling Ten move

Failed Ten Network bidders Bruce Gordon and Lachlan Murdoch may be analysing their own independent expert’s report ahead of making a decision on challenging the sale of Ten to CBS, a court has heard.


Lawyers for Tens administrator KordaMentha have told the NSW Supreme Court that the media moguls were also awaiting KordaMentha’s independent report before deciding on any attempt to block the final transfer of Ten shares to victorious bidder CBS.

Correspondence tendered to the court shows Mr Murdoch and Mr Gordon, through their respective companies Illyria and Birketu, expressed reservations to Ten’s administators on Tuesday about their access to information on the sale process.

The pair have indicated they intend to appeal the court’s decision to allow creditors, and CBS, to vote on the CBS takeover on 16 September.

Ten’s creditors overwhelmingly backed the sale of the embattled network to CBS, Ten’slargest creditor, on September 19.

A spokesman for KordaMentha said that while the passage of the sale through the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transfer of shares to CBS was “usually routine”, the administrators sought the hearing on Wednesday to set a timetable for the share transfer in anticipation of a challenge from Mr Murdoch and Mr Gordon.

KordaMentha said it aims to make the independent report available shareholders via the ASIC website by 10 October, with the Supreme Court setting 31

October as a tentative date to hear any final shareholder opposition.

have not yet decided on when or how to intervene in the sale of Ten to CBS, a court has heard in Sydney.

Lawyers for Ten administrator KordaMentha have told the NSW Supreme Court the media moguls have indicated they are waiting for an independent expert’s report before declaring their hand on any attempt to block the final transfer to Ten shares to US broadcaster CBS.

KordaMentha said it aims to make its independent report on the CBS deal available to shareholders by October 10.

The Supreme Court has set October 31 as a tentative date to hear any final shareholder opposition.

Tigers’ Rance took step back to go forward

Sometimes less is more and that’s certainly proved to be the case for Richmond’s defensive unit this AFL season.


Less Alex Rance that is.

The superstar defender’s decision to take a small step back and let other members of the Tigers’ back line take the lead more often in pre-season has paid huge dividends.

The league’s third-best defence conceded 1684 points this season — a whopping 471 fewer than last year.

And Richmond had scores of more than 100 points kicked against them just twice — by Adelaide in round 6 and St Kilda in round 16.

“Alex is just an extraordinary player, an absolute warrior, but underneath him, in the past, we’ve probably been a little bit skinny,” Tigers fullback David Astbury told AAP.

“So he made it his mission in the pre-season to try to put more responsibility on me and Dylan Grimes and others to allow us to really grow and develop.

“In the past he’s probably just wanted to fix everything but it’s too hard to do for any one person.

“It’s a credit to him. He probably had to take a back seat and allow me or someone else to take over (in meetings or training) and that’s allowed us to get up to speed.

“I think as a group we’re really connected and bonded together as a result.”

Astbury has thrived with the extra responsibility, along with the growing belief that he’s well and truly over the injuries that threatened his career.

The 26-year-old played every game this season — the first time he’s managed that feat since he debuted in 2010.

From the 2011 season through to 2015, he was restricted to just 24 senior appearances due to a horror run with injuries, which included two dislocated kneecaps.

“I was probably fighting a losing battle with myself at different stages … trying to do too much and trying to progress too quickly,” he said.

“It was all in the spirit of trying to get back and play senior football, but the frustration that mounted at different stages was almost overwhelming.

“But I had excellent support from the club.

“I think the key for me has been continuity of playing over a couple of years now.

“Your confidence grows the more you play and when you’re surrounded by the people that I am you just feel really supported.

“Going out there each week is more enjoyable now than it ever has been.”

High Court judgement finds same-sex marriage postal survey counts as ‘statistics’

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann did have the legal authority to set aside $122 million for the postal survey on same-sex marriage, the High Court decided in a judgement earlier this month.



The court also rejected the argument the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was not the right agency to conduct the poll. It found the opinions on same-sex marriage did count as “statistical information”.

The court published a summary of its reasoning on Thursday, several weeks after the judgement was handed down. The somewhat unusual process was justified by the need to reach a quick decision so the ABS could begin posting survey forms.

The judge concluded Senator Cormann had the right to allocate up to $295 million under the Appropriation Act. 

One element of the challenge focused on the requirement for the spending to be “unforeseen”, and argued the government had created the need for the postal survey itself by imposing its own deadline. 

But the court found it was up to the government to decide what was “unforeseen”.

“The Court held that whether expenditure was unforeseen was a matter for the Minister’s satisfaction. Further, the need for the expenditure did not have to arise from a source external to Government,” the reasoning reads.

Another element of the challenge argued the survey was not statistical research and so was outside the remit of the ABS.


But the court rejected that argument too.

“The Court held that the Statistics Direction was valid on the basis that the information to be collected by the Australian Statistician was ‘statistical information’, that the information was ‘in relation to’ matters prescribed in the Census and Statistics Regulation 2016.” 


AFL urges fans to plan ahead or miss out

The Tiger Army has the AFL nervous about crowd numbers for the events around Saturday’s grand final.


Richmond’s 9.45am training session at Punt Rd on Friday is certain to be a lockout, while officials are unsure what to expect for the post-match free concert inside the MCG.

The Tigers’ training session will be followed by the noon grand final parade from the Melbourne CBD to outside the MCG.

Punt Rd only has a capacity of 5000 and Richmond’s massive supporter base, plus their long wait for a premiership, means it will fill up quickly.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has urged Richmond and Adelaide fans to arrive early for Friday’s events.

“The capacity and the crowding issues are a priority for us – we’re working with Victorian Police, working with the clubs,” McLachlan said.

“It’s going to be a great spectacle, the parade, the final training at Punt Rd, all that sort of stuff.

“Please, to all Richmond and Adelaide supporters, understand that there are going to be a lot of people, get there early … expect it to be a big event.”

Organisers will also have their hands full for the post-game concert on Saturday night, featuring American rock band The Killers.

“This year it feels like we might need to make sure we managed the capacity,” McLachlan said.

“We can fit a lot of people in – it’s a free show, it’s not just for those who have grand final tickets.”

McLachlan said they want to have as many people as possible attend the concert.

It is open to the public, not just fans who have grand final tickets.

“Clearly if Richmond wins, there’s a chance no-one leaves and there’s 30,000 outside,” he said.

“I think we can fit everyone in … generally, we haven’t had an issue with capacity.

“This is a big band and a there are a couple of big teams playing in the grand final, so we’ll see.”

McLachlan said he wished the MCG had double its 100,000 capacity, given the massive interest in this year’s grand final.