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Well, it certainly was a big year in NSW politics. From the Liberals we had Premier Barry O’Farrell’s continuing agenda of privatization and austerity.
While former Labor ministers were caught up in one of the biggest corruption scandals to ever engulf the party.
So as 2012 draws to a close 2ser’s Rory O’Gorman spoke with NSW Greens MP John Kaye about his thoughts on the shape of NSW politics in 2012 and what he’s expecting will be the big issues in the new year.
The New South Wales/A.C.T. Alcohol Policy Alliance have released a report which claims that based on patterns from previous years, there will be around 300 deaths and 12 000 hospitalisations from heavy drinking this Summer.
One of the recommendations of the report is that Sydney venues follow the model employed in Newcastle that was set-up to counter the violence there and has been moderately successful.
The Newcastle model includes measures like earlier closing times, a 1am lock-out and no shots or strong drinks after 10pm.
2ser’s Matt Hogan spoke to Michael Thorn, the Chief Executive from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.
The Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at Sydney University has vowed to continue its support for the international boycott of the Israeli government, despite more than a week of negative coverage in the Murdoch press.
The Australian newspaper has run ten straight days of critical coverage of the centre and its Director, Associate Professor JAKE LYNCH.
Lynch declined to assist an Israeli academic with an education exchange application, saying he supports the international BDS movement, which stands for boycotts, sanctions and divestment.
Despite immense pressure Lynch says he won’t back down to bullying and is sticking with the campaign.
He told 2SER’s Mark Robinson that international opinion is turning against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
Australian’s love a swim at the beach and the lifeguards in Sydney are considered among the best in the world.
In fact many of us would be hesitant to go swimming at the beach and would have serious second thoughts about letting our children swim if there wasn't any lifeguards on-hand to protect us.
But what many of you might not know is that some of Sydney’s most popular beaches, Bronte and Tamarama are not patrolled over the Winter months from the beginning of June until mid-September.
During this time, many rescues go on by local surfers, or off-duty lifeguards.
Many of these locals feel it will take a catastrophe before lifeguards are employed full-time at these beaches.
Matt Hogan has the story.
The internet has become as much a part of our daily lives as driving and eating.
But who actually controls the internet?
The International Telecommunications Union or the ITU is the United Nations agency responsible for information and communication technologies.
Recently the ITU hosted the World Conference on International Communication where 178 countries met to update a treaty on internet security originally signed in 1988.
However, many people have voiced their concern that this conference was just an opportunity for powerful nations and multi-national corporations to seize control of the internet.
2SER’s Joel Moss spoke to Associate Law Professor, Melissa de Zwart, from the University of Adelaide, about the World Conference and the fight for internet control.
As the Doha round of negotiations on Climate Change continue, the CIA have released a report on the likely impacts a warming climate will have on the world.
The report, based on a variety of sources including the most comprehensive study of ice core samples ever conducted, found that during the last century the planet heated up faster than at any other time in the earth’s history and that trend is set to continue.
The report states that international governments are ill-prepared to deal with the catastrophic weather patterns and as such Climate Change is set to become one of the leading threats to national security and world peace in the 21st century.
2ser’s Rory O’Gorman spoke to the author of the CIA report John D Stienbrenner director of the centre for international security studies at the University of Maryland.
Relations between Australia and Israel remain tense after the Foreign Minister Bob Carr called in Israel’s ambassador on Tuesday, to convey strong concern over plans to expand settlements on Palestinian land.
Carr told the ambassador that building new settlements threatens the viability of a two-state solution.
Israel announced the plan just a day after the historic vote to give Palestinians observer status at the UN.
In that vote, Australia abstained, which was viewed as a shift away from always supporting Israel on the international stage.
So why is the Gillard government taking a different approach to Israel and will it have any lasting impact?
2SER’s Mark Robinson spoke with journalist and author Antony Loewenstein.
Washington has become the first US state to legalise the recreational use of Marijuana.
Those over the age of 21 are now able to possess and use up to 28 grams of the drug in private areas.
Although some US states do allow cannabis use for medicinal purposes, Washington is the first to legalise it for entertainment.
2SER’s Sam Buckingham-Jones spoke with Professor Alison Ritter, Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
The Randwick City Council has announced a campaign to stop back-packers setting up in popular beach-side car-parks this Summer.
The campaign focuses on dawn patrols by Police to enforce the no-camping policy in areas such as the Clovely beach car-park and at Coogee.
Randwick Mayor, Tony Bowen, said that back-packers were disturbing the areas with excessive littering, loud noise and even leaving toilet waste near where they stay.
Mayor Bowen says this is unacceptable and that rate payers should not have to pick up the cleaning bill.
However, moving back-packers out of one area might just be creating a problem for another area.
2ser’s Matt Hogan spoke to Bondi resident, Prue Clarke about the issue
Since being elected into office in 2011, Premier Barry O’Farrell has made many changes to environment laws resulting in the reduction of wildlife protections.
Many environment groups and politicians have raised concerns over the approval of amatuer hunting in national parks, and a rally was held on Wednesday to tell Barry O’Farrell that they’re not happy.
Katie Hale reports.
The Leveson inquiry has recommended that an independent self-regulatory body and governed by an independent board be created to keep the powerful British press in check.
Lord Justice Brian Leveson’s 2,000 page report was handed down yesterday morning following a 17-month investigation into breaches of press culture and ethics, including the phone hacking scandal and allegations of corruption.
2SER’s Sam Buckingham-Jones spoke with Andrea Carson, Journalist and PhD Researcher at the University of Melbourne, about reactions to the Report.
A Senate inquiry into the adequacy of unemployment benefits has decided not to recommend an increase, despite general agreement that the payment is too low to live on.
At just $245 a week the Newstart allowance is well below the official poverty line and has been criticised by unions, charities and leading business groups.
The two Labor MP’s on the committee did push for a rise, as did the Greens, but they were out voted by Coalition members.
The Saint Vincent De Paul Society has bitterly attacked the outcome saying it humiliates the unemployed.
Chief Executive Dr John Falzon spoke with 2ser’s Mark Robinson.
This week the federal government lifted its ban on the pesticide Diuron after the federal pesticides authority cleared it for use at what they called reduced levels.
However conservationists say the decision by Australia's chemical regulator to allow the continued use of the toxic weed killer could kill the Great Barrier Reef.
Diuron is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a likely carcinogen and research has linked it to coral bleaching and the death of seagrass on the Great Barrier Reef.
Nick Heath from the World Wildlife Fund spoke with 2ser’s Rory O’Gorman.
The Federal Government finally passed poker machine reforms through the Lower House after two years of political debate and public campaigning.
Pubs and clubs will need voluntary pre-commitment technology on their machines, though the first venues will not switch it on until 2018.
Clubs Australia and the Australian Hotels Association have welcomed the reforms but some say they haven’t gone far enough and won’t stop problem gamblers from losing their money.
Matt Hogan spoke to Federal Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenephon.
The state government this week announced changes to BAIL LAWS, in an effort to reduce the large numbers of people who are refused bail, while waiting for a trial.
More than a quarter of adult prisoners in NSW have not been convicted.
The Attorney General Greg Smith has put forward a new “case by case” system, designed to ease the burden on prisons and give those charged a fairer deal.
But he declined to follow the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission which suggested a general presumption in favour of bail.
Legal observers say it’s a step in the right direction but may not be enough.
MAX TAYLOR is a retired magistrate and the convenor of the Bail Reform Alliance – and he spoke with 2SER’s Mark Robinson.
The Federal Government has come under fire for its policy of processing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.
The Refugee Action Coalition has denounced what it calls a “pointless” and “short-sighted” practice.
In a protest outside Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s Sydney office yesterday, demonstrators called on the government to change its approach.
They say re-opening the two offshore processing centres is not a humane solution to people smuggling.
2SER’s Sam Buckingham-Jones filed this report.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire this week.
As part of the deal brokered by Egypt Israel has agreed to end all military operations in the Gaza strip area while Hamas will stop its rocket attacks against Israel.
But Pro Palestinian groups aren’t satisfied and feel the agreement is a temporary solution to Israeli aggression.
Political analyst and human rights advocate, Samah Sabawi, spoke at a Melbourne protest rally last night in support of the Palestinian cause.
2ser’s Joel Moss spoke to Sabawi about the ceasefire and the need for a certain level of compromise from both sides in order to stop the violence between Israel and Palestine.
The Australian Rugby League Commission has accepted a recommendation to outlaw the shoulder-charge from all competitions from 2013.
The report stated that the increased size of athletes was creating a situation where the shoulder-charge could lead to an unacceptable injury risk.
The response from most of the players and coaches was one of dismay and most have been very vocal in opposing the ban.
So is banning the shoulder charge, taking away a key ingredient of the game or a necessary step to protect players in a “tough guy sport” from their own fearlessness?
2SER's Matt Hogan spoke to Nathan McGuirk, General Manager of Operations for the NRL.
More than six hundred aged pensioners could be facing an uncertain future if the O’Farrell government goes ahead with plans to abolish a special tenant’s law.
The obscure law has been in place since 1948 and was designed to provide rent control and secure leases for tenants, particularly ex servicemen.
The government claims that there are hardly any long term tenants left but The NSW Tenants Union disagrees and says hundreds of low income renters could be affected.
The union’s senior policy officer, Chris Martin spoke with 2ser’s Mark Robinson.
In August this year NASA’s $2.5 billion dollar Curiosity rover landed inside Mars' huge Gale Crater where its mission is to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.
This week NASA announced that Curiosity had discovered something in one of its soil samples however the space agency would need to double check its data before making an official announcement.
Since the initial announcement was made earlier this week people have been speculating on what NASA might have found and whether they will announce the discovery of alien life on mars.
2ser’s Rory O’Gorman spoke with Kerry Dougherty curator of space research at the powerhouse museum in Sydney for her thoughts on what NASA may be set to announce.
Having access to comprehensive public education is something most people take for granted.
However, concern is growing in the community about the lack of public secondary school options within the NSW seat of Sydney.
Susan Cheong spoke to Skye Molyneux, a Redfern resident and a mother of two.
There are fears the violence in Gaza will escalate with Israel mobilising up to 30 000 military reserves.
The latest aggression escalated after Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, fired rockets at Tel Aviv killing three Israelis.
The rockets were launched in response to Israel killing top Hamas military commander, Ahmed Jabaari, in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces tweeted the video of the assassination and it was watched by 640 000 people on You Tube before it was taken down.
The assassination was part of Operation Pillar of Defence in retaliation to months of Palestinian rockets pounding south Israel.
Lecturer in Middle East studies at Deakin University, Matt Hardy, called the hostilities another sad exchange of munitions of no benefit for anyone.
2ser’s Joel Moss spoke to Matt Hardy about the cycle of violence and asked why Israel decided to use social media to publicise the assassination.
The practice of “confession” is under scrutiny following the announcement of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
A number of State and Federal MPs have come out against absolute secrecy when dealing with confessions – an idea Priests are calling “inviolable”.
The centuries old practice requires the congregation to tell their sins to their Priest in absolute confidentiality in order to be absolved.
2SER’s Sam Buckingham-Jones spoke with Professor Sarah Joseph, Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University, about the legal obligations of confession.
Yesterday, transport minister, Gladys Berejiklian announced the State Governments plan to restructure Sydney’s rail network, effectively dissolving Railcorp and replacing it with two new organisations, Sydney Trains and New South Wales Trains.
In the fallout, it was announced that about 700 jobs will be cut, in such areas as middle management, risk analysis and customer service.
Is this really part of the solution to fix our rail network or just a cost-cutting exercise?
Matt Hogan spoke to Asran Qpaugh from the Australian Workers Union…
The staff of the ABC are about to get their own representative on the broadcasters board of Directors.
After a six year campaign to have the position of “staff elected director” reinstated, the Gillard government has now passed the legislation and an election will be held early next year.
The elected staff position was introduced in 1975, but it was abolished by the Howard government in 2006.
Veteran ABC presenter and journalist Quentin Dempster previously held the position and was keen to stand again, but due to a technicality in the law, he is now not eligible.
But another leading ABC reporter is planning to stand for election and has Dempster’s backing.
Matt Peacock has worked at the national broadcaster for over 30 years and his book on James Hardie was recently made into the TV drama, “Devils Dust”
He spoke with 2ser’s Mark Robinson.
In Cuba last week, 37 nonviolent protesters, among them journalists and intellectuals, were arrested by authorities in Cuba for lobbying the government to ratify United Nations Human Rights protocols.
John Suarez, a human rights activist based in Miami, Florida, has for the past four years run a blog called “Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter”.
Having previously worked with the UN Human Rights Council, he is passionate about highlighting the human rights issues in his country of descent, from which he has been barred from entering since he was a child.
Reporter Eliza Goetze spoke to him about the recent arrests, the international climate and the current situation in Cuba.
Last month Julia Gillard made waves globally with her highly emotional speech against misogyny in Canberra.
The Australian population responded favourably to the Prime Minister’s comments, but would her stand against misogyny have fared as well in other countries, such as Britain?
A recent article in The Guardian has argued that Australian culture is much more mature when it comes to accepting an equal standing between men and women.
But is this really the case?
2SER’s Oliver Crossan reports.
For over five years the Federal government has been promoting its plan for a mandatory internet filter, but yesterday it backed out the scheme saying it was too broad.
Instead, Communications Minster Stephen Conroy said he’s come to an agreement with internet service providers to block a small number of child abuse sites.
Most observers say the move was a massive backflip, while some Christian groups said they were disappointed.
Free speech group “Electronic Frontiers Australia” welcomed the back down.
Mark Robinson asked the group’s executive officer, Jon Lawrence, if he was surprised by the change of heart.
This week the Communist Party of China assembled it’s congress for a week-long meeting at which the party officials will decide on a new leader for the country.
The Party Congress will nominate and select people to fill some of the country's top political and military positions for the next 10 years.
The six-day meeting began on Thursday but it is expected to be at least another week before China's new cabinet will be revealed to the world.
Professor John Lee from Sydney University’s Centre for International Security Studies joined 2ser’s Rory O’Gorman to discuss what some of the implications of China’s leadership change might be.
The Federal Government this week launched a new initiative to get more women on public and private boards.
Despite some gains in recent years there are very few women serving as directors in senior roles in Australia.
But the new plan, entitled “Board Links”, has already come under fire.
Feminist and UTS academic Eva Cox, says BoardLinks doesn’t address masculine board culture.
Amy Rathbone reports.
Every day six Australians take their own lives, making deaths by suicide higher than the national road toll.
To raise awareness about suicide, The Salavation Army started a Memory Quilts project in 2009.
The quilts weave together the photos of those who have died by suicide, and tell personal stories of the family and friends they leave behind.
This year, five state-based quilts have been made – with the first of them launched last week in Sydney.
2SER’s Yash Pandya attended the launch and spoke to Alan Staines, head of The Salavation Army’s Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Support Service.
Despite all their success, Australia’s female sports stars receive little recognition. But why is this?
After all while our men have been struggling recently Aussie women have dominating and achieving global success in a variety of sports.
There's our Olympians, Sally Pearson and Anna Meares who won gold at the London Olympics, 4-time world surf champion Steph Gilmore, Tennis superstar Sam Stosur as well as the women who just won the cricket world cup.
Last month at the Asia-Pacific World Sport and Women Conference, Sports Minister Kate Lundy addressed gender inequality in the sporting world saying Australian female athletes are competing against men who have hundreds of years of history on their side.
However, it seems things are slowly changing. For instance, in 2008 national competitions for woman’s soccer and netball were launched.
But while women's sports are drastically improving, there is still a long way to go, especially in regards to media coverage.
Ask people about women and sports and you will get hundreds of responses.
2sers Joel Moss reports
A recent paper has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice may be a mere four years away.
Author of the paper, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University is one of the world's leading experts on climate change and Artic sea ice.
His paper explains that a global disaster is now unfolding in northern latitudes of the planet as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded.
He warns that climate change is no longer something we can aim to conquer in a few decades' time.
His paper raises the importance of not only reducing CO2 emissions, but of the need to consider new approaches to tackling global warming.
Professor Wadhams spoke with 2ser’s Rory O’Gorman
Hundreds of homeless teenagers are turned away from refuges every year in NSW, due to a lack of beds.
Welfare groups say despite the Federal Government plan to halve homelessness by 2020, insufficient resources, means “roughing it” is the only option for some older children.
In a trend that is worrying youth advocates, more and more are being told to find another place to stay.
2SER’s Sam Buckingham-Jones reports.
The UNITED NATIONS has decided to set up an official investigation into the American use of unmanned, predator drones, to target and bomb alleged insurgents.
In the last 4 years the Obama administration has dramatically increased the use of remote controlled drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and in the process, hundreds of civilians have been killed.
Two senior UN officials will now investigate the legality of the program which some claim is a clear breach of international law.
The drone program has bipartisan support in the US as part of the so called “war on terror”, but a number of legal experts say the “targeted killings” are actually illegal assassinations.
Dr Alison Pert, is an expert on International Law and the use of Armed Force at the University of Sydney – and she spoke earlier with 2ser’s Mark Robinson.