TABLE TALK: Jace Blunden, Quint Cafe

NCH – WEEKENDER – Jace Blunden. Chef at Quint Cafe. Photo by Marina Neil – 20th March 2014.Your signature or favourite dish?
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One of my main roles at The Essential Ingredient is to showcase, and experiment with, the products that are available on the shelves of the store – hence why I work with a small but focused menu and a large selection of daily specials. With new grains, spices, cheeses and other wonders arriving daily from all over the world it’s impossible to stand still long enough to have a signature or favourite dish, but with Newcastle’s best food store at my disposal it’s an enviable position to be in. However, I do worry that if there are no quiches or carrot and haloumi fritters on the specials menu my regulars might chase me down Darby Street with pitchforks and torches.

Where do you like to eat when you’re not working?

Newcastle is really spoilt for choice at the moment. Breakfast with Ben at Three Bean has always been magnificent and Alice at Baked Uprising seems capable of culinary alchemy. I’ve always had great experiences with Raul at Bocados and with local legend Mark Hosie at Rustica. Anything Tom and Jacqueline Brown have their hand in is always high quality, from Sprout Dining and Canteen at Honeysuckle to Taco Place on Darby – and I’ll always eat anywhere Lesley Taylor is cooking. If I’m out for a drink the Reserve Wine Bar is simply stunning and the cocktails at Moneypenny are works of art.

For a big occasion I’ll let Suzie and Beau at Subo or Chris at Restaurant Mason spoil me rotten any day – always a difficult choice! And lastly a trip to the Valley presents you with the impossible choice of deciding between Muse Restaurant or Kitchen, Margan Estate, Bistro Molines or Roberts – although you would be hard-pressed to choose anyone over Roberts if you can wrangle a garden tour with George and his chickens!

What’s on the menu when you cook at home?

With anything from zero to five kids to feed at any one time meals at my house can swing from a lovingly crafted romantic dinner for two to whatever I can cook quickly, and in bulk, to feed a small army! When all the kids are about I will favour homemade pizzas, heaping bowls of spaghetti or even a few roast chickens torn apart and jammed into flat breads with lashings of chipotle mayo. For dinners that have less of a mess hall vibe I might do a risotto, a nice piece of fish with some seasonal vegetables or some grilled chicken – lathered in a spice mix from The Essential Ingredient, of course, with a nice, nutty salad. I also like to take my work home, so there is generally a few bags of interesting ingredients from the store that I am lucky enough to play with before they appear on the shelves or the menu.

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My School site should be altered to prevent misleading league tables: Senate committee

The My School website should be overhauled so the performance of schools cannot be easily converted into league tables, according to a cross-party Senate committee into the controversial NAPLAN tests.
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While the committee accepted that NAPLAN data is useful for students, schools and parents, it argues there are “significant disbenefits” to publishing the results in a way that allows for a direct comparison of schools.

The core rankings and comparative functions should be stripped from the site to “limit the disingenuous use of data to rank schools”, the committee said in its report.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said publishing NAPLAN results was a marketing tool for schools. “I support efforts to use NAPLAN results as a diagnostic tool for students and to improve the quality of teaching and learning rather than having them used to prepare league tables,” he said.

The NAPLAN tests are used to assess students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across Australia but the tests have become ”high stakes” because results are made public.

The committee’s key recommendation is there needs to be a quicker turnaround between testing and the delivery of results to schools. The committee – dominated by the Coalition when it did the bulk of its work last year – became Labor-dominated after the federal election.

The Australian Literacy Educators’ Association told the committee it takes five months for NAPLAN results to arrive at schools – too long for them to be used as a tool to identify problems in the classroom and devise solutions.

According to a survey by the Australian Education Union, 58 per cent of teachers do not think NAPLAN is a good diagnostic tool.

“The school year moves at a rapid pace and the turnaround of many months does not allow for meaningful intervention to ensure students across the spectrum of development are given the appropriate support they require,” the committee said. It also says the tests should be adapted to better take into account the needs of students with disabilities and from non-English language backgrounds.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said last year the Coalition would consider banning the publication of NAPLAN results because they were “skewing the way people teach”. But he has dramatically softened his rhetoric since the federal election.

On Thursday he said: “The government committed to review NAPLAN and the My School website to ensure it is meeting the needs of our students. We agree that assessments should be available earlier for diagnostic purposes and we are working to ensure a faster turnaround time for results.”

A spokeswoman for the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), which administers the NAPLAN tests and My School website, said: ”We believe that the vast majority of people use NAPLAN results for the right purpose. ACARA does not endorse the creation of league tables and My School has never presented league tables.”

AEU deputy federal secretary Correna Haythorpe said: “We agree that results should be returned sooner, so that they can be used to help students, and that there should be a shift to online testing from next year.”

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Nude yoga: the naked truth

Bringing back the birthday suit: yoga, stripped bare. Photo: Image SourceLook, any excuse to get our kit off in public, right?
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To name but a bare few, there’s the Sydney Skinny swim, rudie nudie rowers and rugby players as well as an “undies run” where your strip down, run a few ks and give your clothes to the Salvos. You can canyon nude in the Blue Mountains, if you’re going to streak at the cricket you won’t be taken seriously unless you’re nude and there are various venues around the country dedicated to going au naturel.

There are nudist dating sites, ad campaigns dedicated to how awesome we all are starkers and there’s even a naturist federation to protect our nudist needs.

Just about every celebrity alive has gotten nude “in the name of charity”.

Whatever.

The point is that it’s surprising, given how much we all clearly love to disrobe given the chance, that we still titter so much at a bit of bottom or boob.

Seriously, the internet seems like a teenager having an apoplectic fit every time someone strips down and does something crazy like a downward dog displaying skywards the bits of themselves where the sun don’t usually shine.

And this is exactly what has had people tee-heeing to themselves in the past week.

In recent years various yoga studios around the world have taken a truly revolutionary (ahem) approach and “yoked” traditional practice with avant-garde approaches. Hence the birth of gimmicky breeds of yoga like “doga”, food yoga and twerking yoga, which inevitably generate plenty of publicity and leave many of us scratching our heads. But, really who cares? If they’re happy, we’re happy.

Same goes for nude yoga, which is just another offering from the slightly whacky school of modern yoga.

I once had the pleasure of being behind a man, in downward-dog, who was wearing ill-fitting turquoise Speedoes. It was a heated, overcrowded yoga room, so his sweaty nether regions and my head were way too close for comfort. The vision was burnt permanently into my memory, so I can see the potential issues with doing the same thing sans-Speedoes. But, that aside, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Yoga is all about “union” with yourself and letting go of attachment to things, so what better way to do that than naked as we came?

It’s not a particularly new concept. In fact, Naked Yoga was an Academy Award nominee in the Best Short Documentary category in 1975.

More recently, the sprouting of nude yoga classes around the place was given a good dose of media coverage about four years ago.

It’s now been exposed again thanks to a Daily Mail article about nude yoga in New York (it’s also available in various studios around Australia).

“While many equate being naked with sex, this couldn’t be further from the truth in a naked yoga class. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and the amazing confidence that comes with it,” the featured yoga studio says on their website.

“Practicing yoga naked frees you from negative feelings about your body and allows [you] to be more accepting and deeper connected with yourself and the world around you.”

Certainly, it makes sense that doing pretzel-like, hip-opening (and leg and bottom-opening) poses, naked, in a room full of strangers would heighten your awareness of your physicality. I just dare someone to do it for a first date.

A set of sexy nude yoga shots posted on Reddit last week have also undressed the underground nude yoga scene. The original article accompanying the shots is pretty hilarious, earnestly explaining: “For those who aren’t experienced yoga buffs, it’s often hard to see the muscles being affected by the poses, especially when the instructor is fully clothed.”

Of course.

The reason people are looking at pictures of an attractive, naked young woman is so they can better understand which muscles are affected in which pose.

The fact is, the shots are fascinating; the human body is fascinating. Why do we need to snicker about it in all its glory or cover up our curiosity with pseudo-intellectual justifications?

Whether it’s yoga or running or even, these days, on the red carpet, it’s almost more surprising when people aren’t trying to get naked.

Is it really all that shocking or is it time to loosen our ties a little and take a good hard look at why we’re all getting our knickers in a twist over a little nudity?

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GPT buys Northland mall stake for $496m

The Northland Mall in Preston.GPT Group has expanded its wholesale mall business with the $496 million acquisition of a half share in the Northland Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s north from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
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The sale, to the GPT Wholesale Shopping Centre Fund (GWSCF), was part of the agreement struck between GPT and the DEXUS/CPPIB consortium, in the complicated takeover of the Commonwealth Property Office Fund.

Under the arrangement, GPT Group, will also buy five office assets once the consortium integrates the rest of the CPA assets.

Northland is a ”super regional” centre, being more than 20,000 square metres and its co-owned by CPA’s former stablemate, CFS Retail Property Trust. It is 11 kilometres north of Melbourne’s CBD, and has the 6th highest moving annual turnover among retail centres in Melbourne.

It is expected interests in more high profile shopping centres will be put on the market for sale as part of the restructure of the Westfield Group into the Scentre Group and the internalisation of the CFS trust.

GPT’s chief executive Michael Cameron said the acquisition was an ”excellent outcome’ for GWSCF, representing a rare opportunity to acquire an interest in a Super Regional asset in an off-market process”.

“We are pleased to be able to secure a significant stake in a dominant shopping centre in the north of Melbourne, which enhances the already high quality of our funds management platform,” said Mr Cameron said.

In a statement, GWSCF’s fund manager Michelle Tierney, said that the addition of Northland delivered a number of benefits to the fund and is consistent with the strategy to own a diverse portfolio of dynamic retail assets that can continue to connect, evolve and grow with their communities.

It was sold through Lachlan MacGillivray, national director of retail investment services at Colliers International, who said the deal highlighted the growing demand for ‘fortress style’ assets”.

“There is limited opportunity to purchase assets of the size and quality of Northland, and we estimate that there is in excess of $10 billion of available capital, both domestically and internationally, chasing major retail centres in Australia,” Mr MacGillivray.

”This year promises to be another strong year for shopping centre sales following a record year of transactions in 2013 with over $7 billion of sales, with the availability of assets, rather than a lack of capital, being the biggest market challenge.

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NRL boss stands firm on Keary stoush

Rules are rules, NRL boss Dave Smith stands has said of Luke Keary’s doomed request to play for Queensland instead of New South Wales. Photo: Brendan EspositoUltimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 
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NRL chief executive Dave Smith has stood firm on the Origin eligibility rules, even if it means South Sydney prospect Luke Keary misses out on playing for his preferred state of Queensland.

Keary, the talented Rabbitohs playmaker currently sidelined, is some years off being considered for Origin, but made it clear he was aligned to the men in maroon should selectors come calling.

Under the new criteria, Keary ticks four of the five boxes for the Blues, despite being born in Ipswich and living in Queensland until he was 10. The changes were made to prevent a repeat of the Greg Inglis scenario, but in Keary’s case has only served to create more discontent.

Smith was refusing to budge as he launched an Origin promotional campaign in Brisbane, saying the criteria was put in place before he started in 2012 and there needed to be firm guidelines around the Origin selection framework.

“I haven’t personally heard from Luke. The rules around eligibility were re-established before my time back in 2012. Some very learned people sat down at a table and established those rules,” Smith said.

“We’ve applied those rules. Clearly that’s going to lead to disappointment for some people but the rules are the rules.”

The QRL believe Keary’s case has exposed a loophole in the laws and there should be a second look. Queensland great Gorden Tallis has backed that stance, saying no player should be forced to play for a state they have no desire to represent.

Keary has approached the Rugby League Players’ Association for guidance on the matter, and RLPA chief executive David Garnsey said Keary had a ”compelling case” to be considered a Queenslander.

“The revised State of Origin eligibility criteria announced by the [Australian Rugby League Commission] in March 2012 are designed to eliminate the possibility of unfair or incongruous outcomes but, as with anything like this, there are always bound to be individuals who feel their circumstances merit special consideration,” Garnsey said.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Malaysia Airlines MH370: search called off as storm sweeps ocean

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past HMAS Success during the search this week. Photo: AFP/PoolPlanes searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 turned back to Perth on Thursday afternoon as dangerous weather conditions swept across the southern Indian Ocean.
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But an update from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority announced that ships would keep searching, with the bad weather expected to continue for the next 24 hours.

The air search was called off just four hours after AMSA announced it had resumed operations for the day.

It is the second day this week that conditions at sea have forced the suspension of the international search in an area that is notorious for its rapidly changing conditions.

Five ships and 11 aircraft were scheduled to be involved in Thursday’s operation, which is covering 78,000 square kilometres of ocean in an area some 2500km south-west of Perth.

On Thursday, WA’s chief Bureau of Meteorology forecaster, Neil Bennett, said although the BOM forecast had been for severe weather on Thursday, the timing of when it would hit the search zone had not been clear.

The search zone falls into an area of the Indian Ocean branded “the roaring forties” by mariners who regularly experienced gale force winds when passing through the area.

“For any vessel encountering gale force winds, you’ve got to take precautions, there are safety issues there, they are dangerous conditions,” Mr Bennett said.

BOM forecasts the winds and rain will begin clearing again from late Thursday night.

“There may well be some showers still hanging around tomorrow but we believe the frequency and intensity of the showers and wind will decrease,” Mr Bennett said.

A Reuters crew were at Perth International airport speaking to the officer in charge of the US Navy P-8 Poseidon, which was being prepared for takeoff, when the air search was abruptly halted.

“The forecast in the area was calling for severe icing, severe turbulence and near zero visibility,” Lieutenant Commander Adam Schantz told Reuters.

“Anybody who’s out there is coming home and all additional sorties from here are cancelled.”

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Search for MH370: desperate urgency permeates Malaysia as misinformation swirls

Kuala Lumpur: What you have read about the events on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is probably wrong.
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Seemingly endless theories and speculation have swirled around the disappearance for almost three weeks.

Unnamed sources quoted in the world’s media have trashed the reputations of the pilots.

Experts have prognosticated about possible scenarios ranging from a fire, explosion, mechanical failure, pilot suicide, sabotage and hijacking.

The truth is, investigating authorities do not know why the Boeing 777 turned around from its scheduled flight path over the South China Sea.

Even more baffling is why and how it flew on for more than seven more hours before crashing into the far reaches of the Indian Ocean, one of the most desolate places on earth.

Could those on board have still been alive on a terror flight to nowhere?

The reason you haven’t seen authorities in Kuala Lumpur deny any of the dozens of theories that have dominated a media starved of verified information is because they cannot rule out any possibility.

Journalists can put any scenario they like at a nightly press briefing in Kuala Lumpur and get the same reply: it can’t be ruled in or out.

The disappearance of the plane with 239 people on board has become the most baffling mystery of modern aviation.

An FBI examination of the home flight simulator of senior pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah may uncover data that could provide some clues.

He has been the focus of attention because it would have taken someone with a pilot’s knowledge to punch a code into a computer to turn the plane around.

But the fact is that nothing suspicious has been found in his background so far, and the evidence known publicly points to him being a good person with 18,000 flying hours’ experience.

Forensic experts will examine debris pulled from the icy waters of the Indian Ocean for any clues, if any is found.

Hopes have been raised by satellite imagery of 122 objects seen by floating in a 400 square kilometre arc, corroborating other sightings of possible debris.

But even if ships heading to the area pull wreckage of the plane from the water it could have drifted hundreds of kilometres from where the plane ditched into ocean 19 days earlier.

A sense of desperate urgency permeates the operational command centre in Kuala Lumpur, because officials fear that unless the plane’s black box recorder is found there is a strong possibility it will never be known what happened on board MH370.

There is now less then two weeks before the box’s batteries stop emitting a signal from a kilometres-deep ocean floor.

As Mark Binskin, deputy chief of Australia’s defence force said this week “we’re not searching for a needle in a haystack, we’re still trying to find the haystack.”

Lindsay Murdoch has been covering MH370  from Kuala Lumpur since the airliner disappeared on March 8.

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MH370: ‘I know my father,’ says missing pilot’s son

Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, with his sister Aishah Zaharie (left), 27, and mother Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan.
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Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, with his sister Aishah Zaharie (left), 27, and mother Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan.

Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, with his sister Aishah Zaharie (left), 27, and mother Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan.

Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, with his sister Aishah Zaharie (left), 27, and mother Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan.

Seth and family

The son of the experienced pilot who flew the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has insisted his father was not the kind of man who would hijack a plane.

Ahmad Seth, the youngest of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s three children, told Malaysian media he has paid no attention to suggestions his father may have been involved in a hijacking or suicide mission.

“I’ve read everything online. But I’ve ignored all the speculation. I know my father better,” the 26-year-old student told the New Straits Times, an English-language newspaper in Malaysia.

Amid the incessant theories about the flight, which disappeared on March 8, many have speculated about state of mind and political persuasions of the 53-year-old pilot at the controls of flight MH370.

This week, a New Zealand publication claimed to have spoken to one of Captain Shah’s friends who said the experienced pilot was going through a number of relationship problems and felt that his life was crumbling at the time of the ill-fated flight.

Shortly after the plane vanished, attention turned to whether Captain Shah or his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, had deliberately crashed the jet as part of a suicide mission.

The political leanings and religious beliefs of Captain Shah have also been closely examined in the media. It has been claimed the captain was a political activist who attended the trial of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, just seven hours before he took control of the passenger jet.

“We may not be as close as he travels so much. But I understand him,” Mr Seth said.

He said the family was holding out for “the right confirmation” that the aircraft ended its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.

“I will believe it [that there are no survivors] when I see the proof in front of my eyes,” he said.

He is the first of the pilot’s immediate family members to speak publicly since the search began.

Captain Shah joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and was certified by Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation as a simulator test examiner.

He had 18,365 flying hours experience, and had installed a Boeing 777 flight simulator in his home, from which he made YouTube videos.

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George Brandis says cabinet made ‘collective decision’ to release exposure draft on changes to race hate laws

Attorney-General George Brandis: “Cabinet decisions… are collective decisions and the decision to release this exposure draft was the collective decision of the cabinet.” Photo: Andrew MearesAttorney-General George Brandis says cabinet made a collective decision to release an exposure draft on changes to race hate laws, but has not denied that he was forced by colleagues to water down his original proposal.
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And he has played down suggestions that he was at loggerheads with Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs – who has criticised the government’s proposed changes – and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, who disagreed with Senator Brandis’s suggestion this week that people have the right to be bigoted.

Mr O’Farrell declared on Thursday that vilification on the grounds of race or religion is ”always wrong”.

Fairfax Media revealed on Thursday that Senator Brandis was forced to soften his original proposal to loosen constraints on racist insults and hate speech in a lengthy cabinet meeting on Monday night.

The Attorney-General was obliged to settle for only a draft exposure bill. This allows the government position to remain fluid and community groups to react. The changes proposed to the Racial Discrimination Act in an exposure draft released to the government party room on Tuesday contained a weakening of Senator Brandis’ original proposals.

The outcome represented what one minister described as a compromise between the conservative and moderate factions. One minister said: ”George has really drunk the right-wing Kool-Aid.”

Another minister said Mr Brandis’ original proposal was ”much worse” than the agreed text and he had been forced to back down.

‘Cabinet decisions are collective decisions’

Pressed in the Senate on Thursday, Senator Brandis said it was a “matter of public record that the cabinet had a discussion about this matter on Monday. You would know and you would not expect me to reveal cabinet discussion”.

“Cabinet decisions… are collective decisions and the decision to release this exposure draft was the collective decision of the cabinet.”

Senator Brandis said Mr O’Farrell’s comments were a “very measured contribution to this debate”.

“I agree with them, and I particularly agree with what Mr O’Farrell said when he said, if I may quote him, when he said ‘vilification on the grounds of race or religion is always wrong. There’s no place for inciting hatred within our Australia society’.”

And he welcomed Professor Triggs’ differing view on the proposed changes.

“The fact that there are a variety of views in the HRC is itself relevant to the fact that we are having a debate in the community about where the line should be drawn between the two goals that I suspect everyone in this chamber subscribes too,” he said.

“On the one hand protecting freedom of speech and freedom of public discussion and on the other hand protecting racial minorities from vilification.

“It’s the government’s view that the fact that there are a variety of opinions about how best to arrive at the twin objectives which we all share is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Victoria, NSW raise concerns with proposed changes

Opening a Museum of Sydney exhibition documenting the history of the Chinese community in Sydney on Thursday, Mr O’Farrell said the work was important because of ”issues that are happening at the federal level”.

”In commendably seeking to protect freedom of speech, we must not lower our defences against the evil of racial and religious intolerance,” he said.

”Bigotry should never be sanctioned, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Vilification on the grounds of race or religion is always wrong. There’s no place for inciting hatred within our Australia society.”

Victoria’s Multicultural Affairs Minister, Matthew Guy, has also questioned the proposed changes, telling the State Parliament the Coalition government would formally raise its concerns with the Commonwealth.

“I am concerned there may be some harmful and unintended impacts upon our community should the exposure draft as it stands be enacted,” Mr Guy said.

Senator Brandis made his ‘bigots’ comment this week in response to criticism by Labor of the federal government moves to change section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It was used to prosecute News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt over an article he wrote attacking ”fair-skinned” Aborigines.

Under questioning from Labor Senator Nova Peris, Senator Brandis said: ”People do have a right to be bigots, you know. In a free country, people do have rights to say things that other people find insulting or offensive or bigoted.”

But Mr O’Farrell said Australians ”enjoy a history as a state and a nation of which we can be overwhelmingly proud”.

”But we must never forget that includes appalling examples of the consequences of intolerance and hatred,” he said.

”No government, no organisation, no citizen can afford to be less than vigilant in combating bigotry, intolerance and hatred. And frankly, our way of life depends on that vigilance.”

The exposure draft released has proposed section 18C, which makes it unlawful for someone to act in a manner likely to ”offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity, would be repealed while section 18D, which provides protections for freedom of speech, will be removed and replaced by a new section.

The changes remove the words ”offend, insult and humiliate”, leave in ”intimidate” and adds the word ”vilify” for the first time.

But a passage in the exposure draft that exempts words and images “in public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter”, has attracted a storm of criticism for being too broad and weakening current protections.

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ERA considering options after Ranger mine toxic leak

A change to lower grade ores at the Ranger uranium mine was the catalyst that lead to a spill of radioactive material in December, according to the Rio Tinto subsidiary in charge of the mine.
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Energy Resources of Australia confirmed that investigations into the December 7 spill – which have halted processing at the mine ever since – had been completed

The probe showed that two protective layers inside a leach tank failed before the steel tank itself was eaten through by the toxic mix of acids and uranium particles.

ERA has traced the problem back to 2009, when the company switched from high grade uranium ore to lower grade laterite ores, and duly had to make changes to its processing equipment.

A ”high powered agitator” was installed in the tank in a bid to help with leaching the new ores, but the agitator appears to have displaced a piece of protective equipment, which duly damaged the rubber lining designed to protect the tank.

“The damaged rubber lining allowed acidic slurry mixture to come into contact with the tank’s steel wall, which subsequently corroded and lead to the failure of the tank,” the company said today in a statement.

A search of five other leach tanks on site found that similar, but less extensive stress, was evident in one other tank, and ERA said it would take advantage of the current shutdown and properly refit all six of its leach tanks.

On top of that, ERA said an investigation of its entire operations had found seven “critical” issues that needed to be addressed before restart, with most relating to the state of tanks used in the processing stage

The leak angered environmentalists given the mine’s close proximity to Kakadu National Park, and mine will not be able to restart processing until approvals are gained from the federal and Northern Territory governments.

ERA – which is 68 per cent owned by Rio Tinto – has always said it has enough stockpiles to meet its uranium sale contracts for the first half of calendar year 2014.

But the company said for the first time today that it is considering options for how it meets its uranium sales contracts in the second half, indicating that the shutdown could last several more months.

Under that scenario, ERA may be forced to buy uranium from another miner and deliver that to its customers, in a bid to avoid a breach of contract.

The mine’s future remains uncertain in the wake of the spill, with local indigenous groups and environmentalists unconvinced about the merits of operating such a mine in such an environmentally sensitive and high rainfall area.

It is also unclear whether Ranger still has enough uranium to warrant continued mining, with ERA conducting an underground exploration campaign.

Any future mining on site will depend on exploration success.

ERA shares were 2¢ lower at $1.325.

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