Australian Politics 2020-04-23 16:30:00

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Massive win for Israel Folau as footy star beats a discrimination complaint and starts cashing in on Rugby Australia payouts - while his former teammates are forced to take pay cuts

A gay rights activist who likened himself to a vicious dog before going after Israel Folau for a homophobic Instagram post has had a complaint to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board torpedoed for being 'vexatious'.

Campaigner Garry Burns wrote to the government watchdog in December, complaining about the former rugby player's infamous Instagram post claiming 'hell awaits' gay people.

Mr Burns also complained about Folau's comments in a video church sermon linking severe droughts and unprecedented bushfires to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in late 2017.

NSW Anti-Discrimination Board president Annabelle Bennett last week wrote to Mr Burns 'declining' the complaint because she was satisfied it was vexatious and 'a flagrant abuse of process such that no further actions should be taken'.

The major legal win comes as Folau starts to cash in on his payout from Rugby Australia as current players begin to take major pay cuts to keep the game afloat.

Israel Folau and his wife, former netball player Maria Folau, pose together in a selfie posted on social media    +4
Israel Folau and his wife, former netball player Maria Folau, pose together in a selfie posted on social media

Dr Bennett found Mr Burns had not pursued the complaint under the state's Anti-Discrimination Act 'in order to avail himself of the processes afforded under the legislation but for a collateral purpose, as a means to pressure the respondent to settle with him'.

The president wrote that the inference was that the settlement sought by Mr Burns was 'directed to the payment of money'.

Dr Bennett noted the activist had disregarded the confidential nature of the process by issuing a media release which stated, in part: 'Fellas, I'm just like a vicious Alsatian dog. Once I grab hold of the leg, I don't let go until the bone is bare and bloodied. One way or another, I will get that remedy from Mr Folau'.

Dr Bennett also wrote that Mr Burns had sent numerous 'inappropriate' emails to Mr Folau's lawyers.

In response to Wednesday's ruling, Mr Burns has written to the Anti-Discrimination Board seeking his complaint be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Mr Burns stated that Folau's alleged breach was public 'and so is my work in defence of homosexuals'.  Mr Burns has previously demanded an apology and a $100,000 donation to charity.

The sacked Wallabies star sparked outrage on April 10 last year when he posted the homophobic comments on Instagram.

Folau's lucrative contract was torn up by Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle before he launched legal action and reached a multi-million dollar settlement in December.

The terms of the settlement were kept private but is believed to be worth about $3million - the remainder of his four-year contract, after originally seeking a whopping $14 million.

According to The Australian, the settlement is being paid off in instalments with those payments at risk should Rugby Australia go under if forced into insolvency.

The payout comes as Rugby Australia makes painful budget cuts with some players sacrificing up to 60 per cent of the salaries.

Folau could end up better off financially than his former teammates who can't take the field while the sport is suspended due to the coronavirus.

The former rugby union star has since signed with Super League side the Catalans Dragons.

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Brethren church provides food boxes to Queenslanders in quarantine

The Brethren are very fundamentalist -- if being loyal to the Bible makes you fundamentalist  -- JR

Aussie charity, the Rapid Relief Team (RRT), has partnered up with the Queensland Government to deliver hundreds of donated food boxes to Queenslanders in COVID-19 self-quarantine.

The RRT is working with the Queensland Community Recovery service (QCR) to support individuals and families in self-quarantine by providing food boxes to those who may be struggling or otherwise unable to leave their home.

Hundreds of food boxes have been packed by RRT volunteers from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC), who of course did so while observing Government health advice and social distancing measures.

They will be delivered to individuals and families all across Queensland, most of whom are temporary or casual workers, and who are in self-quarantine at home.

RRT Managing Director Ron Arkcoll said care and compassion were at the core of RRT’s outreach programs and said they were thrilled to be able to offer a small gesture of help to those who needed it.

“While we know the covid-19 crisis continues to throw up never-before-seen challenges for us all, we are so humbled to be able to provide a small amount of relief to Queensland families who are currently in self-quarantine,” he said.

“Our volunteers are committed to supporting our local communities through these tough times.

“Whether that’s filling a family pantry with some staple food items or putting a smile on the face of a neighbour – from an appropriate distance! – we hope these small gestures go towards providing some relief.

“I want to thank the Queensland Government for their assistance and for always putting the people of Queensland first - and I also want to thank our RRT volunteers who go above and beyond every single time, no matter the need.

“In fact, in the last few days, one of our volunteers drove a 6-hour roundtrip to deliver a single food box to a family in quarantine –  it’s stories like these that truly represent the Aussie spirit of mateship – I couldn’t be prouder,” he said.

The RRT is currently supporting people in self-quarantine in Queensland who have been referred by the QCR, however, are working to expand support to other states.

Media enquiries: Lauren Devlin 0449 041 214





Coronavirus Canberra: Crazy Lake Burley Griffin rule amid pandemic

Canberra residents strolling around Lake Burley Griffin must now walk clockwise only following the introduction of an odd new rule designed to combat COVID-19.

The idea behind the policy is that social distancing measures will be more easily adhered to if pedestrians and cyclists are travelling in the same direction around the landmark.

Signs explaining the new requirement have already been placed around the lake, according to the National Capital Authority.

“Clockwise is COVID-wise. Remember 1.5m social distancing. Pedestrians and cyclists, please where possible travel in a clockwise direction around Lake Burley Griffin,” the signs read.

However, the rule will be voluntary only, and will not be enforced by authorities.

The suggestion has caused a stir on social media, where it was described as the “most Canberra solution ever” by journalist Tom McIlroy.

“Peak Canberra – turning the lake into one big roundabout,” one person joked, while another said: “This is surely left over from April 1.”

However, others took issue with the Government dictating “how to walk” while others argued the policy would do little to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“Any traffic engineer will tell you that this will lead eventually to large groups of people in close proximity for a sustained period,” one Twitter user argued, while another said it “won’t stop people coming up behind you and running past ignoring distance”.

A National Capital Authority spokeswoman told news.com.au the area around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin was always popular with walkers and cyclists, especially during warm autumn days.

“The NCA continues to look for ways to assist the community at these times hence the uptake of the ‘Clockwise is Covid-wise’ campaign and (we) encourage all users to follow the initiative to assist with social distancing on the popular bridge to bridge walk,” the spokeswoman said.

“The walking paths afford plenty of open space for social distancing in a city environment and most users have been doing the right thing (by) complying with the 1.5m guidelines.”

She explained the campaign was an initiative by the Pedal Power cycling organisation and that the signs were erected on Wednesday this week to assist with social distancing.

She said walking and riding in the same direction would help residents maintain a recommended distance.

“We continue to monitor the central basin walk while we review options to reduce risk and encourage all to do the right thing at this heightened time,” the spokeswoman said.

“We also share responsibility of Lake usage with the ACT Government.”

The Canberra rule comes as the Government prepares to roll out a coronavirus tracking app which will be available for downloads within weeks.

The app is voluntary, with Health Minister Greg Hunt insisting to ABC News it will come with “very strong privacy protections”.

“The app is one of the elements that will help us put in place the protections and precautions to take the road out,” he said.

“Our tracing is really doing very well. We have very strong public health units which means they can find out that if I’m diagnosed or you are diagnosed, whom we have been in contact with. The app will assist that process.”

And speaking on 2GB this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the frustrations caused by strict lockdown restrictions, but warned that easing them too soon could spell disaster.

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'Tell that to the families of the 175,000 dead': Model Elyse Knowles is slammed for calling the COVID-19 pandemic a 'GIFT' for the planet

Elyse Knowles called the deadly COVID-19 pandemic a 'gift' to the planet on Wednesday.

It didn't take long for the online backlash that followed, with many people branding the 27-year-old model's comments as 'idiotic'.

As of Wednesday evening, there have been 2,578,930 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, which have resulted in 178,096 deaths. 

'People have lost their lives. This is no gift from the planet. It's a tragic illness killing thousands. Idiotic comments,' one person wrote.

Meanwhile, another person wrote: 'So from Brunswick to Byron and now you're an expert? Yes things have changed but at what cost? Clearly the human cost means nothing to you.'  

But there were some people who agreed with Elyse and rushed to support the model by voicing their opinions online.

'Probably not the context but she’s right. Extremely sad and unfortunate that deaths are occurring but the facts speak for themselves globally with drops in pollution and consumption, higher air quality and clear water channels,' one person wrote.

'Humans are the plague of the earth and in lock down the world is starting to slowly heal itself before we start destroying it again,' another person agreed. 

Elyse's original comments came during an interview with A Conscious Collection on Wednesday for Earth Day. 

'While the spread of coronavirus has been devastating in countless ways, if we look for a silver-lining we’ll find the gift it’s given our planet,' she said.

The Myer ambassador went on to list the benefits including cleaner air, 'glistening' beaches and rivers and wildlife enjoying 'a safer home' as people stay home to practise social distancing.

'Mother Nature has proven to us all that by minimising the collective human footprint, our world can take a breath and re-set,' she continued.

'It’s ignited the fire in my belly to keep advocating for positive change! We have ONE world. We have to treat it with absolute care.'

Elyse is a passionate environmental advocate who moved to Byron Bay with her boyfriend Josh Barker last year in order to live a more environmentally conscious life.

Meanwhile, Elyse was criticised last month for sharing photos from her camping trip to Moreton Island in Queensland.

The former Block contestant left fans fuming after she uploaded a picture of herself and Josh alongside a gushing caption about their 'magical week'.

Responding to the backlash, Elyse explained that she hadn't been aware of the severity of the pandemic when she and Josh set out on their holiday.

'A lot has changed in a week, let alone daily. We were away last week, and it was more so we weren't near anyone,' she wrote.

As soon as they became aware of the severity of the situation, she said, they made every effort to return home to Byron Bay.

There are currently 6,647 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with 74 deaths.

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 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here