Posted: 27 May, 2016

Head Rolls At 60 Minutes

"The gravest misadventure in the program's history"

The 60 Minutes producer behind the botched child kidnap story in Beirut has lost his job, while a review found the Nine Network made inexcusable errors in covering the matter.

Among the errors, the review found the 60 Minutes team went against company policy by directly paying a child recovery agency.

Producer Stephen Rice has left the network, while others, including reporter Tara Brown, have received formal warnings over what has been labelled "the gravest misadventure in the program's history", but 60 Minutes will continue.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said the network and program have suffered significant damage to their reputation in a case that exposed its crew, who were detained in Beirut for a fortnight, to serious risks.

"We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences," Mr Marks said in a statement on Friday.

A three-member internal inquiry found 60 Minutes grossly underestimated factors not least of which was the power or willingness of a foreign government to enforce its laws, tarnishing the program's world-wide reputation for credible reportage.

Producers at 60 Minutes had such a high level of autonomy that the executive producer saw no need to consult the news director on the wisdom of commissioning the story, the inquiry found.

"If Nine's usual procedures had been adhered to, the errors of judgment may have been identified earlier, with the result that the story would not have been undertaken at all, or at least not in the way in which it was implemented," it said.

Nine's reputation is "tarnished" because it paid the child recovery agency involved directly, rather than the talent, which went against Nine's standard procedure.

Two payments totalling $115,000 were made direct to Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), which had been independently contracted by Sally Faulkner to retrieve her children Lahela, five, and Noah, three.

"There was little practical difference in paying that company directly, and paying Ms Faulkner, when Nine well knew what all of the funds would be used for, and this exacerbated the risks faced by Nine," the review said.

One of Nine's internal lawyers had in fact queried the direct payment, but the concern was discounted by the producer on the basis that payments to third parties had been done before.

In addition to the direct payment, Mr Marks said it was also inappropriate not to have consulted Nine's security advisers before the story was finalised.

"As a result of the review, we are expanding and upgrading our processes related to story selection and approval, how we approve contracts and payments and the way we conduct risk assessments," he said.

Review member and former 60 Minutes producer Gerald Stone believes the program still has a future.

"It's clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made," Mr Stone said.

"I still believe, however, that 60 Minutes - lessons learned - can continue to earn the respect and attention of the viewing public for years to come."

Mr Rice, Ms Brown and two other 60 Minutes crew members were detained in Beirut for a fortnight, while CARI boss Adam Whittington and three colleagues remain locked up.

 

 

Read more

Tags: AAP

Posted: 27 May, 2016

‘Inexcusable Errors’ In 60 Minutes Case

Findings of Nine’s independent review

The 60 Minutes producer behind the botched child kidnap story in Beirut has lost his job, while a review found the Nine Network made inexcusable errors in covering the matter.

Among the errors, the review found the 60 Minutes team went against company policy by directly paying a child recovery agency.

Producer Stephen Rice has left the network, while others, including reporter Tara Brown, have received formal warnings over what has been labelled "the gravest misadventure in the program's history", but 60 Minutes will continue.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said the network and program have suffered significant damage to their reputation in a case that exposed its crew, who were detained in Beirut for a fortnight, to serious risks.

"We got too close to the story and suffered damaging consequences," Mr Marks said in a statement on Friday.

A three-member internal inquiry found the case tarnished the program's world-wide reputation for credible reportage.

Founder and former producer of 60 Minutes, Gerald Stone, said, “I had the honour to help start that stopwatch ticking 37 years ago and regrettably this has been the gravest misadventure in the program’s history.

Producers at 60 Minutes had such a high level of autonomy that the executive producer saw no need to consult the news director on the wisdom of commissioning the story, the inquiry found.

"If Nine's usual procedures had been adhered to, the errors of judgment may have been identified earlier, with the result that the story would not have been undertaken at all, or at least not in the way in which it was implemented," it said.

Nine's reputation is "tarnished" because it paid the child recovery agency involved directly, rather than the talent, which went against Nine's standard procedure.

Two payments totalling $115,000 were made direct to Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), which had been independently contracted by Sally Faulkner to retrieve her children Lahela, five, and Noah, three.

"There was little practical difference in paying that company directly, and paying Ms Faulkner, when Nine well knew what all of the funds would be used for, and this exacerbated the risks faced by Nine," the review said.

One of Nine's internal lawyers had in fact queried the direct payment, but the concern was discounted by the producer on the basis that payments to third parties had been done before.

In addition to the direct payment, Mr Marks said it was also inappropriate not to have consulted Nine's security advisers before the story was finalised.

"As a result of the review, we are expanding and upgrading our processes related to story selection and approval, how we approve contracts and payments and the way we conduct risk assessments," he said.

Review member and former 60 Minutes producer Gerald Stone believes the program still has a future.

"It's clear from our findings that inexcusable errors were made," Mr Stone said.

"I still believe, however, that 60 Minutes - lessons learned - can continue to earn the respect and attention of the viewing public for years to come."

Mr Rice, Ms Brown and two other 60 Minutes crew members were detained in Beirut for a fortnight, while CARI boss Adam Whittington and three colleagues remain locked up.

Read more

Posted: 27 May, 2016

How You Can Help Struggling Dairy Farmers

"The cows are the only asset we've got left and they're sending us broke"

Pic: Getty

Supermarket shelves stacked only with home-brand milk are becoming a common sight, as Australians try to do their bit to help struggling dairy farmers. 

Whether it's a result of shoppers being selective, or supermarkets only stocking their own brands, is still up for debate.  

Either way, Biggenden dairy farmer Robbie Radel joined Marto and Ed this morning, confirming the best way we can help farmers is to buy brand-labelled milk.

"When you go to buy milk, or to have a coffee, insist it's brand-labelled.  That's Pauls, Parmalat, Dairy Farmers, Norco," he says.

"Little independents too Scenic Rim, Baffle Dairy Fresh - they're doing it tough too because of this because they've got all their processing costs themselves but they have to try to keep their products competitive."

Of course the challenge is finding the brand-labelled milk: the word is to try IGA and other independent stores if that's what it takes. 

Robbie also gave Marto and Ed an insight into how the dairy industry is struggling.

"We've been paid at or below the production cost of the milk for years now. We've sold off every asset we've got, apart from the cows," he explains.

"The only asset we've got left - the cows- is the thing that's sending us broke."

"The whole supply and demand market that you have with fruit and vegetables, we don't have that in Queensland. We are paid the one price year round regardless of season, regardless of shortage," he says.

"We in Queensland are over 150 million litres of white milk short per year. We import half a million litres of milk per day, from south of the border, to prop up the market," he says.

And it's only going to get worse if  Queensland dairy farmers keep going broke - so hunt down those brand-labelled bottles!

Read more

Tags: milk, dairy, farmers

Posted: 27 May, 2016

Aussie Backpacker Missing In Brazil

The 25yo separated from mate a wk ago

Pic: Facebook

Aussie backpacker, Rye Hunt, is missing in Brazil.. almost a week after he split from a mate to grab a coffee at Rio de Janeiro's international airport. 

The 25 year old Tasmanian, who's been living and working in WA, left Australia last month. 

His mate, Mitchell, has spent the last week searching the airport, surrounding areas and their hostel area for him but there's been no sign. 

According to his Australia-based girlfriend, Bonnie, he hasn't been online or used his bank accounts since last Saturday (May 21). 

The family has now launched a GO FUND ME account, planning to go to Brazil to join the search. 

"[We] are deeply concerned for Rye's welfare and are seeking to travel to Brazil to search for Rye.

Any funds associated to this cause will be utilised for travel and investigatory costs associated with the search for Rye."

DFAT is aware of the situation, a spokesperson saying they're in regular contact with local authorities. 

Read more

Posted: 27 May, 2016

Lifeline Needs Cash For Dairy Crisis Appeal

Pic credit: Getty Images

Lifeline is calling for donations, to make sure it can answer every call it receives from farmers who're struggling with the current dairy crisis. 

A perfect storm of big brands slashing supermarket milk prices and deceased demand means some farmers are operating at huge losses with massive debt. Lifeline wants them to know help is available, and that there is hope. 

The charity's launched a Dairy Crisis Appeal after urgent requests for help from the industry, with a number of organisations getting calls from desperate farmers thinking about taking their own lives.

CEO Pete Shmigel says the support service is vital now more than ever before - stats revealing men in rural areas are between 1.3 and 2.6 times more likely to die by suicide than those living in the city. 

“The dairy crisis is having a significant and even heartbreaking impact in farming communities across the country and Lifeline needs the public’s support to be able to answer every call to our 13 11 14 helpline,”

The Victorian Government has already thrown some interim support towards the charity, but it needs more funds to cut waiting times and so no call goes unanswered.

If you're interested in helping to fund the service, you can do that HERE

If you, or anyone you know needs help, call13 11 14

Read more

Posted: 27 May, 2016

Semi-Trailer Hits Melbourne Bridge, Driver Trapped

Firefighters on site

(Image: Twitter)

UPDATE

Firefighters have cut a woman from a crumpled truck cabin after she drove a semitrailer into a Melbourne bridge.

The truck hit the low clearance rail bridge in West Melbourne on Friday morning and tipped onto a 45-degree angle, trapping the 54-year-old female driver in the cabin.

Firefighters used wooden beams to prop the truck up as they worked to free the woman, who was conscious and breathing but appeared to have sustained serious injuries, an MFB spokesman told AAP.

She was cut free shortly before 10am - after spending almost three hours trapped - and is being assessed by paramedics.

Part of Lloyd Street remains closed and the V/Line freight rail line has been suspended as crews work to clear the scene.

EARLIER

A truck driver is trapped after his semi-trailer ploughed into a rail bridge in Melbourne.

The truck hit the West Melbourne bridge on Friday morning and tipped onto a 45-degree angle, trapping the driver in the cabin, a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokesman told AAP.

Firefighters are attempting to put the truck upright to free the driver.

More to come.

-AAP

 

Read more

Posted: 27 May, 2016

Dodgy Workplaces Put On Notice

Fair Work launches anonymous tip off service

Pic credit: Getty Images

A tip-off service has been launched by the employment watchdog as a way to crackdown on rogue employers. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says she's had enough of hearing about workers getting paid $10 an hour "so I am putting the call out to the whole community – workers, consumers, concerned citizens, businesses, everyone – to help us build a culture of compliance."

The online tipoff service is completely anonymous, and is mostly for people who may be aware of illegal things that are happening but don't know what to do about it. 

They're also expecting to hear from employers who suspect their competitors are getting an unfair advantage by not playing to the rules. 

"Of course we won't be storming into a business on the basis of one anonymous tip off." 

Read more

Posted: 27 May, 2016

Which Aussie Workers Get To Work The Earliest

City, gender and industry play a part

Pic credit: Getty Images

Brisbane is the most punctual city in Australia - with almost 70% of people getting to work early. 

Workers in Perth are second in line, while Sydney and Melbourne tie for third place with 60% of people arriving early,

As for the slowest... Adelaide takes the cake, with 41% of workers showing up late on the regular. 

The research, by employment management company Deputy, found Baby Boomers are the most likely earliest starters but Gen Z gives them a run for their money.. arriving earlier than both Gen X (1966-1976) and Gen Y (1977-1994).

As for gender... yep, it plays a part! Women are more reliable than men at turning up on time or early. 

Other factors include industry... with the most punctual industry being retain, with 66% of shop workers arriving early. Construction came in second, while healthcare and hospo workers are the tardiest. 

Read more

Posted: 26 May, 2016

Sydney Man Arrested, Accused Of Terror Plot

A Sydney man will face court charged with planning an alleged terrorist attack in Australia.

The 24-year-old Bankstown man was arrested by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) on Thursday outside his home this morning.

He was charged with conspiracy to conduct an act in preparation for a terrorist attack.

The Australian Federal Police said the arrest related to material seized during Operation Appleby raids in December 2014 and that there is no new threat to the community.

It's believed the arrest is in relation to a 2014 terror plot against Garden Island navy base.

Thursday's arrest brings to 15 the total number of people charged by the JCTT Sydney in relation to Operation Appleby since September 2014, the AFP said.

The man is being held at Sydney Police Centre.

Read more

Posted: 26 May, 2016

Shooting At Concert In New York

One person has been killed and three others wounded in a New York shooting.

Image: Twitter/WSVN

One person has been killed and three others wounded in a shooting inside a concert venue in New York City, where hip-hop artist TI was scheduled to perform.

It happened around 10.15pm on Wednesday at Irving Plaza, near Manhattan's Union Square, police say.

No arrests have been made.

A concert-goer says TI was supposed to take the stage around 9 or 9.30pm, but never went on.

Representatives for TI, whose real name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., say they're referring all questions about the shooting to police.

No other information was immediately available.

Irving Plaza is a 1025-person ballroom-style music venue.

 

Read more

Tags: New York

Posted: 26 May, 2016

Kevvie's Speech That Has Josh McGuire Ready To Smash The Blues

Pic credit: Getty Images

An emotionally charged speech by coach Kevvie Walters made a stirring opening to the Maroons Origin camp, and Josh McGuire says he can’t wait to play.

Triple M's Origin insider Dobbo managed to pull McGuire out of his bed bright and early to chat with Marto & Ed Kavalee for Breakfast this morning.

“He’s a very emotional guy and he just kind of explained to us the passion he had behind the jersey and what it meant to him, and I tell you what I was ready to play that night,” he said.

“I’m excited about Kevvie as a coach, I came through Broncs with Kevvie.

“He always tears up… he’s just a passionate guy obviously and it means a lot to him.

“There’s a lot of passionate guys in the team as well.”

 

 

Read more

Posted: 26 May, 2016

Govt's Plan To Tackle 'Plastic Debt'

Credit cards may soon be harder to get

Pic credit: Getty Images

Changes to credit card laws look to be on the way, making it harder to fall into the so-called plastic debt trap. 

The Turnbull Government's considering making banks assess customers based on their ability to repay the money in a 'reasonable time', instead of the current system where banks only check customers can pay the minimum. 

With the interest charges up to 20% on most of the major credit cards, paying the bare minimum gets customers virtually nowhere - often taking 30+ years to repay. 

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the idea's been floated as a way to help the most at-risk customers. 

Read more