Same-sex marriage: Man, 18, denied vote as details can’t be verified by ABS

The 18-year-old is “incredibly frustrated” after the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) told the HSC student he could not take part in the same-sex marriage postal survey because it can’t verify his details.


Mr Cairnduff has two lesbian mothers and was eager to receive his ballot so he could vote so they could get married in front of friends and family in Australia.

The HSC student enrolled on the Australian Electorate Commission website this year on February 13, two days before his 18th birthday, to ensure he would be eligible to vote.

SBS World News can confirm Mr Cairnduff is enrolled to vote on the AEC website. He also said he voted in his local election this year.

0:00 Same-sex marriage around the world Share Same-sex marriage around the world

But Mr Cairnduff did not receive a ballot by the ABS September 25 deadline for mail-outs. 

The 18-year-old spent hours on the phone to ABS supervisors trying to determine why a ballot was not delivered to his address.

“We called up the ABS and they came back to us, after a long time speaking to a couple of supervisors, saying they couldn’t find me on the database, but they could find me on the website [AEC],” Mr Cairnduff told SBS World News.

“They said call back when we will be handing back our second round of postal votes. After that long call, I called back on the 26th, and they said to me they didn’t think I could vote because they couldn’t find me on the database.”

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After enquiring further – in an email showed to SBS World News – the ABS replied claiming he was not eligible to vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey.

“Unfortunately we have not been able to verify your details against the Commonwealth Electoral Roll so cannot process your request at this time,” it read.

Mr Cairnduff said he is frustrated he has been forced to put so much effort into fighting for his legal right to vote. He is also concerned other Australians might be discouraged if they are facing a similar situation.

“I am incredibly frustrated that I have had to put this much effort to essentially fight for my vote, in a process I frankly don’t want to be doing anyway,” Mr Cairnduff told SBS World News.

“I am frustrated, you see these people in the media and they speak about your family and what my family is and what it means… And they are going to have their right to vote, but I am not going to be able to vote on whether my mums can marry.”

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Patrick is hoping he will be able to see his mother, Annette Cairnduff, and her partner, Kylie Gwynne, marry for the second time in Australia.

The couple were married for a very brief time when same-sex marriage was legal in Canberra, before the Marriage Act was amended in 2004 to only recognise the union between a man and a woman.

Annette Cairnduff is also the co-founder of Just Equal, a human rights group inspiring Australians to respect equality for LGBTI Australians.

0:00 Hundreds of Australian same-sex couples head to NZ to marry Share Hundreds of Australian same-sex couples head to NZ to marry

‘This means the world to us’

Mr Cairnduff said this issue was of paramount importance to his family and urged Australians who may not have received a ballot to persist for their right to vote as it would be making a difference.

“If you’re not in a family like mine, it is not going to directly affect you and it may be a bit more of an effort [to request a postal vote],” Mr Cairnduff said.

“But, for family’s like mine this means the world to us to be able to marry. When I saw my parents get married in Canberra, to see them smile… and to see how happy we were that this day had finally come around, to us it’s just so important.”

Alex Greenwich Co-Chair of The Equality Campaign said they will be raising the concerns with the ABS.

“Every single survey in this postal vote counts, stories like this highlight just how important it is to return your survey,” he said in a statement to SBS World News.

“We will continue to raise these concerns with the ABS and encourage everyone to return their YES votes.”

The ABS confirmed to SBS World News they are investigating the issue and the AEC said they are unable to comment on an individual case for privacy reasons.

‘Old bloke’ Scott steps up as International team leader

Now 37, Scott is the veteran for the Internationals at Liberty National this week, as soft-spoken and polite as ever, but now a leader whose words carry weight in the team room.


“Adam is a very quiet guy but when he speaks it’s with such conviction and passion,” team captain Nick Price told reporters on Tuesday.

Scott is almost destined to one day lead the team himself but for now, the 2013 U.S. Masters champion would just like to play on a winning side.

The Internationals tied the United States in South Africa in 2003, when Ernie Els and Tiger Woods duelled in a thrilling playoff that was called a draw in fading light.

That was a good debut experience for Scott, but six subsequent consecutive defeats have been sobering.

Perhaps a touch jaded but still optimistic, Scott hopes to feed off his younger team mates as much as they feed off him.

“It’s good to see a lot of young blood in the team and excitement levels are at an all-time high,” he said of team in which six of the 12 players are aged below 30.

“It’s been a while since that was me in South Africa, so really that’s a lot of inspiration for me coming this week, (to) feed off them a little bit, too, as much as I can give advice or whatever I’m meant to do as an old bloke.

“For them to lift me up, too, and make me feel young again is important.”

Scott’s record is hardly spectacular — 13 wins, 17 losses and five halves — due mainly to an awful return in alternate shot foursomes, but he has a winning 4-3-0 record in singles, where there is nowhere to hide.

And though non-confrontational by nature, Scott has started taking on a role he feels is important, even if it does not come naturally.

“I didn’t really know what was going on in ’03,” he said.

“But now I’ve played so much, and it seems a bit of my role, as well, the last couple of Cups has been to be a bit of a team room player for the guys and just make sure everyone is feeling comfortable.

“I’ve seen a lot at this stuff, and someone has also got to be able to speak up to these very respected captains, who might not be seeing exactly what the players are feeling sometimes, too.

“I’ve been fairly happy to fill that role the last couple of years.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by John O’Brien)

Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive in historic decision

The longstanding driving ban was seen internationally as a symbol of repression of women in the Gulf kingdom and its repeal comes after years of resistance from female activists.


The shock announcement, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.

“King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud has issued a decree authorising the issuance of drivers’ licences for women in the kingdom,” Saudi state TV said.

“The decree will take effect in June 2018.”

Saudi Arabia will use the “preparatory period” until then to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new drivers, the announcement added.

Conservative clerics in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy ruled according to sharia law, have long justified the ban arguing that lifting it would lead to promiscuity. One of them claimed that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

Many women’s rights activists have been jailed for flouting the ban.

The surprise announcement was widely welcomed, both at home and abroad.

“A glorious day. Can’t hold back my tears,” tweeted Saudi shura council member Latifah Alshaalan. “Congratulations to the women of my homeland.”

Activist Manal al-Sharif, who led the 2011 “Women2Drive” protest movement, tweeted: “Today, the last country on earth to allow women to drive… we did it.”

“It is a testimony to the bravery of women activists who have been campaigning for years that… Saudi Arabia has finally relented and decided to permit women to drive,” rights watchdog Amnesty International said.

Tight restrictions 

Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women.

Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member — normally the father, husband or brother — must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.

It was unclear whether women would require their guardian’s permission to apply for a driving licence.

After Tuesday’s historic announcement, the hashtags “I am my own guardian” and “Saudi Women Can Drive” began gaining traction on social media, while many openly lampooned conservatives who long favoured the ban.

One Saudi woman tweeted a picture of three women in a convertible going shopping, with the message: “Us soon.”

The policy could socially liberate women — heavily reliant on foreign drivers and ride-sharing apps — and also boost the economy at a time of low oil prices by increasing their participation in the workforce, experts say.

The announcement follows a dazzling gender-mixed celebration of Saudi national day at the weekend, the first of its kind, which aimed to spotlight the kingdom’s reform drive despite a backlash from religious conservatives.

Men and women danced in the streets to drums and electronic music, in scenes that are a stunning anomaly in a country known for its tight gender segregation and an austere vision of Islam.

Women were also allowed into a sports stadium — previously a male-only arena — to watch a concert, a move that chimes with the government’s Vision 2030 plan for social and economic reform.

With more than half the country aged under 25, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son and the architect of Vision 2030, is seen as catering to the aspirations of younger people.

0:00 Women celebrate new Saudi laws allowing women to drive Share Women celebrate new Saudi laws allowing women to drive  

‘A great step’ 

US President Donald Trump welcomed the decision as “a positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities of women in Saudi Arabia”, according to a White House statement.

The US State Department called it a “great step in the right direction”, echoing a similar comment from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at a crucial time for Saudi Arabia.

The oil kingpin is in a battle for regional influence with arch-rival Iran, bogged down in a controversial military intervention in neighbouring Yemen and at loggerheads with fellow US Gulf ally Qatar.

“Allowing women to drive is the biggest PR win that Saudi Arabia — and Prince Mohammed — could have in a single swoop,” said Jane Kinninmont, from London’s Chatham House.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, heir apparent Prince Mohammed, 32, is seen as stamping out traces of internal dissent before any formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father.

His gambit to loosen social restrictions, which has so far not translated into more political and civil rights, seeks to ease criticism over a recent political crackdown, some analysts say.

Authorities this month arrested more than two dozen people, including influential clerics and activists, in what critics decried as a coordinated crackdown.

Trump pick loses run for US Senate

Alabama voters have elected conservative firebrand Roy Moore as the Republican nominee for a US Senate seat on Tuesday, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump.


An outspoken evangelical Christian, Moore won election with a fierce anti-Washington message and a call to put religion at the centre of public life.

“We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” he said.

With all 67 counties reporting, Moore led Strange by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Despite campaigning for Strange, Trump congratulated Moore for his victory and urged him to defeat Democrat Doug Jones in the December election to fill a seat that was held by Jeff Sessions before he became Trump’s Attorney-General.

“Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Moore is favoured to win the December election, as Alabama has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992.

The 70-year-old first lost his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse and a second time for defying the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appeared with Strange at rallies in the race’s closing days.

But Moore said he would back the president if he gets to Washington.

“Don’t let anybody in the press think that because he supported my opponent I do not support him and support his agenda,” Moore said.

More supplies needed as villagers flee Vanuatu volcano

About 7,000 people on the island of Ambae — in the Pacific archipelago’s north — have left their homes after the Manaro Voui volcano rained rocks and ash on their villages.


The volcano sent up a plume of steam and ash over the weekend after weeks of rumbling, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.

They have also upgraded Manaro Voui to a level four alert, representing a “moderate eruption state”, and warned of “flying rocks and volcanic gas” up to 6.5 kilometres (four miles) from its crater.

However, aid workers said a more immediate concern was conditions in the 35 evacuations centres set up outside Ambae’s exclusion zone.


The area was already experiencing a dry spell and ash has now blanketed crops and water sources.

Manuel Ure, a disaster coordinator with the local Penama provincial government, said conditions in the camps were difficult.

“We have very limited shelters, we have very limited food and water and other necessities… we are facing a lot of challenges at the moment,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Red Cross coordinator Augustine Garae said the continuing influx of people was putting more pressure on the camps.

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“The number of evacuees is expected to rise, making facilities at evacuation centres (such) as proper toilets and sanitation not enough for everyone to access,” he told the Vanuatu Daily Post.

A boat with supplies and volunteers left the capital Port Vila on Wednesday and more are expected in the coming days.

A New Zealand Air Force plane conducted an observation flight over the volcano on Tuesday, gathering data to help scientists assess the risk of a major eruption.

The volcano, also known as Aoba and Lombenben, has three lakes in its crater and last erupted in late 2005.

On that occasion about 5,000 people were evacuated and it was three months before the volcano settled enough for them to return home.

Family caught up in deadly NSW car smash

Three generations of one family were travelling in a car involved in a fatal four-vehicle smash on the NSW Pacific Highway that claimed the life of a 72-year-old woman.


In the car with the woman who died was a six-year-old girl, who was airlifted to hospital in a serious condition, a 45-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy who escaped injury.

It’s believed the 72-year-old was in the back seat, with the 45-year-old woman at the wheel.

The collision on Tuesday morning involved a B-Double, two cars and a ute near Telegraph Point, on NSW’s mid-north coast, with another car struck by debris, police say.

All the other drivers – aged 78, 47 and 30 – have undergone mandatory blood and alcohol testing, as officers investigate what led to the deadly crash, police told AAP on Wednesday.

The crash happened on a horror stretch of the Pacific Highway, with locals taking to social media demanding the road be upgraded.

“As a member of the local emergency services and someone who travels over this section of highway on my way to work, I also have become concerned with the number of accidents here … I know that driving on that section seems (in my case anyway) to cause fatigue,” one local wrote.

“It’s about time they fix the part of the highway! How many people have to be injured or lost their lives before something is done about it,” another despaired.

A Transport for NSW spokesman says in the five years to 2016 there were 54 crashes recorded on the section of the Pacific Highway from north of the intersection with Hastings River Drive to Telegraph Point.

Three of these crashes were fatal.

However, he said there had been no crashes recorded in the previous five years at the location of Tuesday’s incident.

Meanwhile, a man has died in a two-vehicle collision on the Hume Highway near Marulan in the NSW southern tablelands.

A heavy vehicle and a car, both travelling north, collided at 5am on Wednesday.

A 40-year-old male passenger of a Hyundai sedan died at the scene, police said, while the other occupants – a 46-year-old male driver and a 14-year-old boy – were uninjured. The 65-year-old truck driver also escaped injury.

Cowboys’ rousing Townsville NRL GF sendoff

Try telling North Queensland fans the Cowboys have been written off, ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final against Melbourne.


A sea of supporters has given underdogs North Queensland a rousing farewell as they fly out to Sydney for the season decider.

Just getting to the airport was half the fun for the Cowboys.

Thousands lined the streets from Townsville’s CBD to the domestic terminal in a memorable send-off before their second grand final in three years.

But nothing could prepare the team for what was waiting at the airport.

Players were overwhelmed by well wishers in oversized yellow cowboy hats, a big band and a team of percussionists next to a pop-up North Queensland merchandise stall.

Yet the Cowboys reckoned it was business as usual.

“It has been a routine the last few weeks – it’s just that each week, a few more people turn up at the airport,” assistant coach David Fairleigh said.

The Cowboys’ unlikely grand-final surge could not have come soon enough for Townsville.

The regional centre has been enduring tough times since last year’s closure of the Yabulu nickel refinery.

Townsville has a worrying youth unemployment rate, jumping from 15.6 per cent in July 2016 to 22.2 per cent this July.

There is also a water shortage with the Ross River Dam below 20 per cent capacity.

Fairleigh said the Cowboys were happy to bring a bit of joy to the city.

“Seeing the spirit in the crowd and wishing us well, we love the support,” he said.

“We saw people all along the streets from the Cowboys Leagues Club (in the CBD) all along The Strand and out to the airport.

“But I am not that surprised that the team is that well supported.

“Now we are going to Sydney to get some work done.”

Stuffed cow in SA pizza shop causes storm

An Adelaide pizza restaurant has faced a wave of criticism on social media after hanging a stuffed cow from its ceiling.


Etica Pizza’s Facebook page has been bombarded with comments of “disgusting”, “blatantly appalling” after it hung eight-year-old Schvitzy, a taxidermied Friesian-Hereford cow, above its dining area.

“Take the poor cow down she doesn’t belong there,” one complainant wrote.

“Tasteless maybe hang one of your staff up,” wrote another.

Other customers voiced their support and urged people to look at the message behind the installation.

“The cow installation is great and confronting,” wrote a supporter.

“If you enjoy dairy it should also be a catalyst for you to delve into the industry and educate yourself.”

Co-owner Melissa Pisanelli said their intention was to raise awareness of the realities of the dairy industry and was a challenge to the way society tended to obscure the origins of food.

While the restaurant is not vegan or vegetarian, serving both meat and dairy products, Ms Pisanelli said it was meant to be confronting.

“We can’t just look at things in pretty packets. We need to understand there is real sacrifice made to produce it,” she said.

The restaurant tried to allow people to make informed decisions around the sourcing of their food, Ms Pisanelli said.

But an online petition demanding the removal of Schvitzy had attracted more than 4500 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

“This is unspeakable, atrocious and shocking to see, we wish for them to take her down ASAP,” the petition said.

“Absolutely disrespect for the animal,” wrote one signatory.

Restaurant co-owner Federico Pisanelli said it was a well thought out project to highlight ethical concerns and not a publicity stunt.

“Planning began over two and a half years ago with taxidermist Dean Smith from the Melbourne Museum commissioned to do the project”, Mr Pisanelli told AAP

Schvitzy was a pet to a farming family at Mount Barker and the restaurant said all of the cow’s meat was consumed before it was stuffed and hung.

‘Sugar daddy’ dating ads in Belgium accused of promoting ‘prostitution’

The Norwegian-based website ‘RichMeetBeautiful’ has faced accusations in Belgium of promoting prostitution, following a publicity campaign that involved lorries with huge billboards parading past universities in Brussels.


The billboards carried a picture of a woman’s chest barely hidden by a red bra, with the slogan “Hey students! Improve your lifestyle, go out with a ‘sugar daddy’.”

The lorries were parked on Monday outside the Brussels Free University (ULB), one of the country’s top universities, for the start of the new term.


According to RichMeetBeautiful’s Norwegian chief Sigurd Vedal, 10 other such lorries would be rolled out across Belgium in coming weeks “mainly near universities”.

The regional government of Wallonia-Brussels, which includes the Belgian capital, said that it would make a legal complaint for the “incitement of debauchery and prostitution” against the website.

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The mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, said he would ask police to ban the lorries.

ULB had lodged a complaint with an advertising ethics watchdog, which had also received several other complaints, said Sandrine Sepul, the head of the watchdog.

A student group, the Union of Students of the French community, said it was a “completely immoral campaign”.

Brussels City Mayor Philippe Close said he would ask police to ban the lorries.Getty Images

“More and more students are in social or economic difficulties. We know the phenomenon of student prostitution is gaining ground, and here you have a business which exploits the distress of these young women for profit,” the group’s president Opaline Meunier told AFP.

“If this is not incitement to prostitution, it is at the very least comparable to using the services of an escort girl. Students who are struggling to pay for their courses need a scholarship, not a ‘sugar daddy’.”

Site boss Vedal said criticisms likening the site to prostitution were unfair.

“It’s a classic misunderstanding,” Vedal told AFP, adding that a television, radio and internet campaign were also in the works. 

“We are like a normal dating site, but financial is part of the checklist. We have very clear terms of agreement, ‘sugar babies’ must be 18 of age and prostitution is not allowed”.

Out of 150,000 young women who have signed up in Scandinavian countries and Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, around 21,000 are Belgian, according to the site, which says Belgium is one of is commercial priorities.

Solomon Lew maintains pressure on Myer

Solomon Lew’s retail group Premier Investments has asked for Myer’s list of shareholders in a sign it may push for a seat on the board of the struggling department store.


The company said it has made the request in order to consider writing to Myer’s members about any resolutions proposed for Myer’s annual general meeting in November.

Premier Investments bought a 10.77 per cent stake in Myer in March, which has since lost around a third of its value to $64 million due to Myer’s sliding share price slid amid its weak financial performance.

Mr Lew this week accused the department store of losing its way, and misleading investors about how poorly it was performing in 2017.

He has also said Myer’s newly opened clearance floors contain stock of up to three years old that “belongs in the Salvation Army”, and said the company is run mostly by consultants.

Presenting Premier Investments’ financial results on Monday, Mr Lew told analysts: “Whatever happens at Myer, we would like a seat at the table.”

Shares in Myer, which are trading ex-dividend on Wednesday, jumped on the news, adding five cents, or 6.9 per cent, to 77.5 cents.

Conversely, shares in Premier Investments continue to take a battering after it reported a modest annual profit increase, falling to a three-month-low on Wednesday.

Smiggle and Peter Alexander continue to drive revenue growth for Premier Investments, but Morgan Stanley analysts have warned its apparel brands Jacqui E, Portmans, Just Jeans, JayJays and Dotti are dragging on earnings.

While those brands make up a reducing portion of sales – 60 per cent in 2016/17 – the analysts said the risks facing the businesses “hold us back from turning more positive” on Premier Investments.

“The structural challenges are intensifying as international retailers expand into regional Australia and as Amazon sets up direct retailing in the country – apparel is a category that is susceptible to online competition,” the analyst team led by John Stavliotis said in a note.

They do not expect a sharp rebound in sales from those brands because of the challenging consumer environment, and predict a stabilisation, with risks remaining in the medium term.

Premier Investments shares fell almost seven per cent in the two days after the company released its financial results, and dropped a further two per cent, or 25 cents, to $12.58 on Wednesday.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said Mr Lew also painted a negative picture for the broader retail sector in delivering the financial results, highlighting high household debt and weak wages growth.

“They released some sluggish figures and have talked down the apparel business in Australia,” Mr Daghlian said.

Shares in Premier Investments enjoyed strong growth between 2012 and 2016, and , rising by close to double digits each year, and fluctuated since.