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Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231693/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Culinary legend closing famous restaurant

<p>Australian chef and TV presenter Kylie Kwong is closing the doors of her famous restaurant after three years. </p> <p>The Sydney-based chef has been in the culinary industry for 30 years and is known for her unique blend of Cantonese cuisine and native Australian ingredients.</p> <p>Her restaurant, Lucky Kwong in South Eveleigh, will close on June 26, a tough decision that she had to make amid the high costs of running a business. </p> <p>“Everyone is feeling it. I have never seen the restaurant industry in such tough times as it is right now,” she told the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>. </p> <p>Despite this, Kwong said she was lucky to have been in the hospitality industry and that she plans to "relax and reflect" during her break from the restaurant business. </p> <p>"For all the many challenges that come with being in the hospitality industry, I consider myself fortunate for I have had far more positive experiences than negative," she said.</p> <p>Kwong opened her restaurant in 2021, after she shut the doors on her previous Sydney venue, Billy Kwong in 2019.</p> <p>She said that she also planned to further her work with charities focused on First Nations and multicultural communities, as she looks for more opportunities to  “amplify other people’s stories”. </p> <p>“I’ll still be very much connected to the food industry, but just I’ll be doing it in a different way,”  she told the<em> ABC</em>. </p> <p>She also announced that she's "hanging up my restaurateur hat" on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C7KkTNgSXw9/?img_index=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Instagram</a>, and thanked everyone who has supported her throughout this journey. </p> <p>Celebrity chefs, Nigella Lawson and Darren Robertson shared their well-wishes on her post. </p> <p>“I feel a pang knowing that the next time I come back to Sydney there won’t be your restaurant to make a beeline for, but I’m so happy for you to have the time to do what’s right for you,” Lawson said.</p> <p>Robertson said he had massive respect for her contribution to Australian food and added: “Now try and get some bloody rest before your next adventures!" </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Surprising move after top cop busted for speeding

<p>Victoria Police found themselves facing embarrassment recently when one of their top-ranking officers, Glenn Weir, was caught speeding.</p> <p>Weir, who serves as Victoria’s Road Policing Assistant Commissioner, was captured by a hidden speed camera in an undercover police car on February 29, traveling at 58km/h in a 50km/h zone.</p> <p>What makes this incident particularly noteworthy is not just the fact that a high-ranking police officer was caught breaking the law, but also the response Weir himself has taken. Despite being eligible to have the charge downgraded to a warning due to his clean driving record, Weir has chosen to accept the consequences – a $337 fine and a single demerit point penalty.</p> <p>In a statement addressing the incident, Weir expressed remorse and took full responsibility for his actions. He acknowledged the severity of the mistake, especially given his position as an advocate for road safety throughout his career.</p> <p>"I take full responsibility for this error and am mortified it has occurred," Weir said. "I’ve spent my entire career advocating for road safety and this incident proves nobody is immune from making a mistake on the road."</p> <p>Weir’s willingness to own up to his mistake sets an important example for accountability, not just within the police force but for all members of society. Moreover, his case underscores the importance of adhering to speed limits, with Victoria Police having long advocated for the correlation between speeding and road accidents. According to their data, speed is one of the leading causes of car crashes in the state, with the rise in the state’s road toll by almost 12% February 2023 to February 2024 further highlighting the urgency of addressing speeding and other reckless driving behaviours.</p> <p>Weir’s decision to accept the consequences of his actions demonstrates integrity and a commitment to upholding the principles of road safety. </p> <p><em>Image: 7 News</em></p>

Legal

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"I thought I was gone": Doctors reveal how close Jimmy Barnes came to dying

<p>Jimmy Barnes has shared how he fought to stay alive after being forced to undergo major surgery, admitting he didn't think we would survive. </p> <p>The rock legend underwent emergency heart surgery in December 2023, after being struck down with a dangerous infection that threatened his life. </p> <p>Speaking candidly to <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/60-minutes/jimmy-barnes-cold-chisel-illness-how-rock-icon-fought-to-stay-alive/3717a0d8-25ff-4400-bab3-f556e0b417c2" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>60 Minutes</em></a>, the 67-year-old said he didn't have much hope in his survival. </p> <p>"I just said to Jane, 'I don't think I'm gonna make it'. I just had this horrible morbid feeling because I've never felt this sick before. I thought I was gone," he said. </p> <p>Barnes was first admitted to hospital the day after pushing through excruciating pain in November to perform at a tribute concert for his late friend Michael Gudinski. </p> <p>After being admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney with pneumonia, a team of specialists including cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Paul Jansz, soon discovered a much more sinister health issue was at play, as an infection quickly led to endocarditis: a life-threatening inflammation of the heart.</p> <p>"[The infection] was just eating at his heart. You see an abscess cavity forming around the valve, and that would've just grown and grown and grown," Jansz said.</p> <p>"It's fatal. If he didn't die of the infection, he would've died from heart failure, from the whole valve falling apart."</p> <p>By the time he was wheeled into theatre, his doctors say he had hours to live.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 60 Minutes Australia (@60minutes9)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"When I contemplated dying before surgery, I just thought, 'you have to savour those moments; have I told my children that I love 'em enough? Have I told Jane? The people you love, make sure you tell 'em'," Barnes said.</p> <p>Surgeons managed to fix Barnes' heart in a marathon seven-hour surgery, as the musician then faced a lengthy recovery process. </p> <p>"It's like you've been ripped in half," he said.</p> <p>"Your best friend is a pillow. If you cough, it's just agony. If you breathe too deep, it's agony. And sneezing would be the end of you."</p> <p>"But I think it's made me stronger. I want to be better than I was. I've got all this new life from this and I want to make the best of it. I want every minute to count."</p> <p>Now two months into his recovery, Jimmy is getting stronger everyday, and has nothing but thanks for his loved ones that stayed by his side during the difficult journey. </p> <p>"Without a doubt, the fact that my family were there and Jane was there, I wasn't going anywhere. I wanted to spend every breath I could spend with Jane. And if that meant fighting to live longer, I was going to do it."</p> <p>When asked about his highly-anticipated <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/music/huge-news-for-jimmy-barnes-fans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">return to the stage</a> in April, he joked it would be his version of resurrection. </p> <p>He said, "I miss being on stage, I have to do it, I don't have a choice. I need to get out there and scream, it just clears the emotions out of you."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 60 Minutes </em></p>

Caring

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Shocking moment Glenn McGrath grabs three snakes with bare hands

<p>Aussie Cricket legend Glenn McGrath has turned into a part time snake wrangler after having to remove three snakes from his rural Queensland property with his bare hands.</p> <p>McGrath found the carpet pythons slithering inside his home on Wednesday, and decided to share the footage of him removing the unwelcome guests in different locations in his house. </p> <p>One python was inside his pantry, another was in the living room and third was making its way across the hall.</p> <p>"After plenty of encouragement and support from my wife, all three Coastal Carpet Pythons that were in the house were safely released back into the bush," he captioned the video. </p> <p>In the video, his wife Sara screamed in absolute horror as he removed one of the snakes by grabbing its tail, carefully wrapping it around a mop, and taking it outside.</p> <p>"You're going to get bitten," she screamed. </p> <p>McGrath calmly reassured her that he had it all under control. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cw3aLO5yCV1/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cw3aLO5yCV1/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Glenn McGrath (@glennmcgrath11)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Fortunately, the carpet pythons are a non-venomous breed, so there was no real threat to McGrath. </p> <p>However, many fans of the cricketer still applauded his bravery in the comments. </p> <p>"Haha good technique mate. Steve Irwin couldn't have done it any better," wrote one fan. </p> <p>"This is better than his 50 he scored against New Zealand," quipped another. </p> <p>"Keeping a good line and length between self and snake! Good work!" wrote a third. </p> <p>"This 🐍 knows he’s being handled by a CHAMP.. " commented a fourth. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Without hope": Close friend shares sad Schumacher update

<p>It has been a decade since the tragic skiing accident that left Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher with life-threatening injuries, and the most recent update on his condition paints a decidedly sombre picture.</p> <p>Renowned motorsport journalist Roger Benoit, a close friend of Schumacher, recently conveyed a disheartening assessment, describing Schumacher's situation as "a case without hope" in an interview with the Swiss newspaper <em>Blick</em>.</p> <p>Schumacher's catastrophic incident occurred in December 2013 when he struck his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps, resulting in severe brain damage. Despite wearing a helmet and skiing with his son Mick, Schumacher's life took a tragic turn. He spent 250 days in a medically-induced coma before finally returning home.</p> <p>Since then, updates on Schumacher's condition have been exceptionally scarce, primarily due to the steadfast commitment of those close to him to protect his privacy.</p> <p>In his recent interview, when pressed for a specific update on Schumacher's condition, Benoit offered these bleak words: "This sentence says everything about how (Michael) has been doing for over 3500 days. A case without hope."</p> <p>In 2021, Schumacher's wife, Corinna, broke her silence and spoke about the accident for the first time in eight years during a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/he-s-a-very-proud-dad-unearthed-snap-of-michael-schumacher-stuns-fans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Netflix documentary</a>. She shared: "Michael is here. Different, but he's here, and that gives us strength, I find. We're together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he's comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond. And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will."</p> <p>Now 54 years old, Michael Schumacher has not been seen in public for a decade. His absence has left a void in the world of Formula 1, where he was a legendary figure, having clinched the Drivers' World Championships seven times, a record tied with Lewis Hamilton for the most titles in history. Schumacher's impressive 91 career Grand Prix wins rank second only to Hamilton's 103 victories.</p> <p><em>Image: Netflix</em></p>

Caring

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"We cannot judge": Nat Barr's frank question on war crimes for Army veteran

<p>Sunrise host Natalie Barr surprised viewers when she confronted a war veteran after he referred senior Australian Defence Force leaders to the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan.</p> <p>Glenn Kolomeitz, a military lawyer and army veteran, signed the referral alongside Senator Jacqui Lambie.</p> <p>The referral to The Hague had the criminal court examine the country’s high commanders “through the lens of command responsibility”.</p> <p>Kolomeitz and Lambie claimed senior commanders have avoided investigation over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.</p> <p>“I've got to ask you. This is a question I get asked every time we discuss this general issue,” she said.</p> <p>“We trained these people to kill, and we trained them to operate in a war setting. None of us as civilians have any idea what that's like and we cannot judge them for when they go over there to war. What do you say to that?”</p> <p>Kolomeitz insisted that defence force personnel, regardless of rank, must be investigated if they’ve committed or covered up a criminal act.</p> <p>“I worked with these guys on a couple of rotations, and quite frankly, they are amazing advocates for our country, but if they've done the wrong thing, they must be properly investigated, and they must be vigorously prosecuted. That's the reality,” he said.</p> <p>“You can't ignore the commanders. You vigorously investigate and prosecute those who have done the wrong thing, including those with command responsibility.”</p> <p>The TV presenter then asked if an investigation was necessary for the chief of the defence force, Angus Campbell.</p> <p>Kolomeitz replied, “Every joint task force 633 commanders in that job during the period of the enquiry.”</p> <p>The army veteran drafted the letter that would be sent to the International Criminal Court.</p> <p>“If Australia does nothing about it, the ICC can potentially assume jurisdiction over the higher command and excise the higher command investigation from the ongoing investigation of junior soldiers,” he said.</p> <p>The 2020 Brereton report found “credible” evidence that 25 current or former Australian SAS soldiers unlawfully killed 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2005 and 2016.</p> <p>The report strongly recommended administrative action be taken against ADF personnel where there is credible evidence of misconduct, but not enough for a criminal conviction.</p> <p>It ruled that senior commanders were not criminally to blame for the alleged crimes.</p> <p>Senator Lambie noted leadership had not been held to account for their actions.</p> <p>“The government is no doubt hoping this will all just go away,” she told the Senate.</p> <p>“They're hoping Australians will forget that when alleged war crimes in Afghanistan were investigated, our senior commanders got a free pass while our diggers were thrown under the bus.</p> <p>"Well, we don't forget. I won't forget. Lest we forget.</p> <p>“There is a culture of cover-up at the highest levels of the Australian Defence Force. It is the ultimate boys' club.”</p> <p>Image credit: Instagram/LinkedIn</p>

TV

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“Heavy heart”: Glenn McGrath’s heartbreaking news

<p>Glenn McGrath is in mourning after his father passed away. </p> <p>The Australian cricket legend's dad, Kevin, died earlier this week after a battle with an undisclosed illness. </p> <p>Glenn's wife Sara broke the news on Wednesday, sharing an emotional post on Instagram in tribute to her father-in-law. </p> <p>“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of my beloved father in law, Kevin James McGrath,” she wrote. </p> <p>“He was a great dad, husband, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and friend. He was compassionate, humble, caring and certainly always there when you needed him."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsDLac2PHG_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsDLac2PHG_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sara Leonardi McGrath (@saraleonmcgrath)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“He was a man of the land, tough as they come. Who’s greatest pleasure was everyday waking up looking forward to working on his wheat and sheep farm. A gentleman in every way."</p> <p>“When I arrived in Australia knowing only one person, my husband, my father in law welcomed me with open arms and heart. He was the best father in law I could have ever wished for." </p> <p>“In the last few months of his life I had the privilege to repay the love he had show me since we met. He will be thoroughly missed at the same time we are at peace that he is no longer suffering." </p> <p>“Love u Kev”.</p> <p>Tributes flowed in for Kevin, with Olympic gold medallist Kerri Pottharst commenting, “I’m so sorry to hear. Sending massive love and hugs to all the family xx”.</p> <p>The McGrath Foundation added, “We are so incredibly sorry for your loss and our thoughts are with you, Glenn and your entire family. Kev was a true gentleman”.</p> <p>Glenn McGrath is no stranger to tragedy in his life, having established the McGrath Foundation with his late wife Jane, who died of breast cancer in 2008.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

News

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What is myrtle rust and why has this disease closed Lord Howe Island to visitors?

<p>Some 70% of the World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/17/most-of-lord-howe-island-closed-to-visitors-after-outbreak-of-plant-fungus">closed to non-essential visitors</a> in response to a recurrence of the plant disease myrtle rust.</p> <p>Myrtle rust, native to South America, was <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/invasive-species/diseases-fungi-and-parasites/myrtle-rust">first detected</a> in Australia on the Central Coast of NSW in April 2010. It is caused by a fungus that belongs to a group of plant pathogens known as the rusts.</p> <p>Rusts are among the most feared of all plant pathogens. They spread rapidly over thousands of kilometres on wind currents and can cause huge losses in plant production.</p> <p>For example, wheat rust research over the past 100 years at the University of Sydney has shown clear evidence of wind-borne rust spores travelling from central Africa to Australia. Wheat production losses due to rust have at times totalled <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/biosecurity/biosecurity-economics/potential-impact-wheat-stem-rust">hundreds of millions of dollars</a>.</p> <p>Myrtle rust rapidly invaded the entire east coast of Australia in the years after it was first detected. It has caused the near extinction of at least three rainforest species, including the native guava (<a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=19162">Rhodomyrtus psidioides</a>) and the scrub turpentine (<a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=15763">Rhodamnia rubescens</a>).</p> <p>The disease was detected at Lord Howe Island <a href="https://islandarks.com.au/files/2017/12/I-think-we-dodged-a-bullet-Implementing-a-Rapid-Response-Plan-for-a-Myrtle-Rust-incursion-on-Lord-Howe-Island-in-October-2016.pdf">in 2016, and eradicated</a>. Now it has managed to spread there once again. There are concerns if the disease is left unchecked, it could seriously alter the unique ecology of the island. Lord Howe is home to some 240 native plant species, of which more than 100 are not found anywhere else.</p> <h2>How can the disease be controlled?</h2> <p>Rust diseases in agriculture are controlled by the cultivation of genetically <a href="https://csiropedia.csiro.au/rust-resistance-in-plants/">resistant plants</a>, or by use of fungicides. These fungicides can kill existing recent infections and provide protection for up to four weeks. In other situations, such as horticulture and native plant communities, fungicides are used together with removal and destruction of infected plants.</p> <p>The 2010 detection of myrtle rust in Australia followed its detection in Hawaii in 2005 and China in 2009. It was later found in New Caledonia (2013) and New Zealand (2017). <a href="https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:13b49a4">Research</a> has shown the same strain – known as the “pandemic strain” – has appeared in all of these countries. Several other strains occur in South America.</p> <p>It is likely the fungus spread to Lord Howe Island from eastern Australia on wind currents. The especially wet conditions along the east coast of much of Australia in 2022 led to an increase in the disease there. This, in turn, increased rust spore load and hence the chance of long-distance spore dispersal.</p> <p>In addition to being spread on the wind, the rusty coloured spores produced by these fungal pathogens stick readily to clothing. These spores remain viable for at least two weeks under ambient conditions. Several wheat rusts of exotic origin are believed to have been accidentally brought in to Australia on travellers’ clothing from North America and Europe.</p> <p>The chance of inadvertent spread of myrtle rust on contaminated clothing is why access to Lord Howe island has been restricted since last week.</p> <p>The second incursion into the island clearly shows how incredibly difficult rust diseases are to manage once they reach a new region. It points to possible recurrences of the disease there in years to come even should current efforts to eradicate it succeed.</p> <p>On top of the ability of rust diseases to spread rapidly over large distances, a further complication in controlling myrtle rust is it infects a wide range of native plants. Some of these species hold great cultural significance and/or are endangered.</p> <p>Endemic species of the myrtle plant family <a href="https://www.britannica.com/plant/Myrtaceae">Myrtaceae</a> that are dominant in many of the plant communities on Lord Howe Island are highly vulnerable to myrtle rust infection. Of critical concern are two species that occur only on the island: the mountain rose (Meterosideros nervulosa) and the rainforest tree scalybark (Syzigium fullagarri). The rust infects young leaves and also flowers, where it causes sterility.</p> <h2>Australia brings expertise to the battle</h2> <p>Australia has some of the best plant pathologists in the world and has long been a leader in controlling rust diseases in agriculture. This expertise, combined with world-leading scientists in the ecology of Australian native plants, has enabled solid progress in understanding myrtle rust in the Australian environment. Australian scientists have joined hands with New Zealand scientists to boost efforts to control the pathogen in both countries.</p> <p>Research is also under way at the University of Sydney and Australian National University to develop new DNA-based diagnostics to allow rapid identification of the different strains of the pathogen. These tests are especially important given only one strain of myrtle rust occurs in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions.</p> <p>The success of managing the impact of myrtle rust on the region’s iconic flora against a backdrop of climate change will rely heavily on undertaking the research needed to gain a much better understanding of this damaging plant pathogen. Recognising this, staff at the University of Sydney have convened a conference for June 21-23 this year. It will bring together myrtle rust experts to exchange their latest research findings and identify priority areas for research.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-myrtle-rust-and-why-has-this-disease-closed-lord-howe-island-to-visitors-202045" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Major star forced to skip Oscars after health diagnosis

<p>Glenn Close has been forced to bow out of her appearance at the 95th Academy Awards after testing positive for Covid. </p> <p>The 75-year-old acting legend was due to present an award at the show on Monday, but is remaining at home where she is "isolating and resting", according to reports by the <em><a href="https://apnews.com/article/oscars-2023-live-updates-df6b623d9990809be51884d49ee0db2f?utm_medium=AP&amp;utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_campaign=SocialFlow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Associated Press.</a></em> </p> <p>Close's publicist, Catherine Olim, confirmed that the actor contracted the virus and would no longer be able to attend the Oscars ceremony.</p> <p>"She was very much looking forward to taking part in the show," Olim said in a statement, while she did not share details about the extent of Close's symptoms. </p> <p>Producers are scrambling to find a replacement to present for actress, who has been nominated several times but never won, as she was reportedly meant to announce the winner of this year's Oscar for best picture award. </p> <p>Sadly, Close’s appearance at the Oscars in the Los Angeles Dolby Theatre was meant to be a fun reunion between her and Harrison Ford, co-stars of the 1997 action picture <em>Air Force One</em>.</p> <p>Glenn Close was among an impressive group of A-listers to present awards, including Riz Ahmed, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Troy Kotsur, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monáe and more.</p> <p>This is not the first year that Covid has forced stars to pull out, as Lin Manuel-Miranda had to skip last year's show after his wife tested positive for the virus just before the award ceremony.</p> <p>The virus has taken its toll on other awards shows, with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jamie Lee Curtis having to bow out of the Critics Choice awards in January following their participation in the Golden Globes the week before. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

News

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Russell Crowe’s close call with slithery “buddy”

<p dir="ltr">Russell Crowe has shared a snap of the venomous snake he had a close encounter with over the weekend, with a warning for others who could come in contact with them.</p> <p dir="ltr">Crowe came across the snake while walking barefoot outside his home in Nana Glen, to the west of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6691f7c2-7fff-d812-7f3b-8770e1449cfd">“On the driveway. Me and my buddy Band Bandy. Thankfully, his markings broadcast his presence,” the <em>Gladiator</em> star wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of the reptile.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">On the driveway. Me and my buddy Bandy Bandy.<br />Thankfully, his markings broadcast his presence. Broke one of my own rules, walking outside, at night, without shoes. A little reminder of the folly of that choice. <a href="https://t.co/wP0YNNLXkJ">pic.twitter.com/wP0YNNLXkJ</a></p> <p>— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) <a href="https://twitter.com/russellcrowe/status/1599342690751361025?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Broke my own rules, walking outside at night, without shoes. A little reminder of the folly of that choice.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-501b7a5d-7fff-05e4-bac2-ae108b03f4ce"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">The 58-year-old also shared a clip of the Bandy Bandy, a snake that is endemic to Australia, with the caption: “Who’s my buddy now?”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Who’s my buddy now ? <a href="https://t.co/tgkmxPVUD9">pic.twitter.com/tgkmxPVUD9</a></p> <p>— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) <a href="https://twitter.com/russellcrowe/status/1599341335861133312?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 4, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">His close call comes shortly after he shot down rumours he had married Britney Theriot, his girlfriend of two years, after the <em>Broken City</em> actress was spotted leaving an Italian hotel wearing a ring on her wedding ring.</p> <p dir="ltr">Crowe reportedly dismissed the gossip in a text message to 2Day FM radio host Erin Molan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“'[He texted me] Yeah, good guess. We are not married'.. Yeah, they are not married…” Molan said on the <em>Hughesy, Ed, Erin</em> show last month.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-dbdd28f5-7fff-1a97-126f-56491f8930fa"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Sam Mac’s terrifying close call at the zoo

<p dir="ltr">Sam Mac has had a close call with a menacing lion at Sydney Zoo, just days after<a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/five-lions-escape-from-taronga-zoo-enclosure" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> five of them escaped at Taronga Zoo</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <em>Sunrise </em>weatherman was speaking to Marco, one of the zoo’s lion keepers, about Virunga, a massive 220kg lion.</p> <p dir="ltr">Virunga kept pacing up and down his enclosure as the pair discussed how big he is before Sam got the fright of his life.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The size of the paws, you feel their breath, the sounds that they make,” Sam said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Suddenly, Virunga jumped at the fence causing Sam and Marco to jump back, while in the studio Natalie Barr and David Kochie could be heard exclaiming “oh my goodness”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He’s very hungry,” Marco said.</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=314&amp;href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSunrise%2Fvideos%2F5579584545490670%2F&amp;show_text=false&amp;width=560&amp;t=0" width="560" height="314" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">Sam then jokingly mentioned the incident at Taronga Zoo in which five lions escaped their enclosure - sounding the warning alarm.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Did you have that moment when you suddenly realise you’ve left the iron on at home?” he asked.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like, ‘have I done all of my checks, are all of the gates closed? Did you have that moment?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Marco confessed that the incident at Taronga Zoo was a “definitely a good reminder” to ensure that he’s locked up the lions for everyone’s safety.</p> <p dir="ltr">He then handed Sam a piece of meat to feed Virunga and put his palm up against the fence before getting another fright.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So, just keep the fingers away, that’s all I need to know?" Sam asked</p> <p dir="ltr">“Yep, just keep the meat in the palm of your hand, aim for one of the squares around his head height, and keep your hand nice and flat,” Marco said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Once again, Virunga jumped at the fence, placing his large paw on it, scaring Sam away.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Whoah - ohhh. I know there’s a cage there, but it’s still just ... it’s so intimidating!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Marco tried to hand Sam another piece of meat to feed Virunga but he said he was “good”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“My favourite animal - but ideally with a fence between us.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Sunrise</em></p>

TV

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Tragedy as Aussie boy dies from mosquito bite

<p>A nine-year-old boy from Western Australia has tragically died from dengue fever while on holiday with his family. </p> <p>Glenn Pulgadas had been on holiday with his parents, Glenn and Ryza, in the Philippines to see extended family when he was bitten by a mosquito.</p> <p>According to the <a title="www.abc.net.au" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-30/wa-boy-dies-dengue-fever-in-philippines-warning-travellers/101386032">ABC</a>, the boy began feeling unwell on August 12th and was admitted to hospital. </p> <p>He was described as being “weak in appearance” with headaches, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and nose bleeds.</p> <p>Glenn then went into dengue shock syndrome which typically includes clamminess, a rapid weak pulse and narrowing of pulse pressure.</p> <p>These symptoms then led to organ failure, with Glenn tragically passing away on August 25th.</p> <p>The young boy is being remembered as "bright and bubbly" by all who knew him.</p> <p>“Glenn was a bright, bubbly, young boy who was so full of life and always had a smile on his face,” said family friend Danielle Zarzycki.</p> <p>Glenn's hometown community of Harvey has launched a <a title="www.gofundme.com" href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/glenn-pulgadas-memorial">GoFundMe</a> page to raise money for funeral expenses which has so far reached more than $9000.</p> <p>One of the top donators, who gave $1,000 to Glenn's family, is local St Anne’s School, where Glenn was a year three student. </p> <p>Dengue fever is spread via the bite of some species of mosquito. </p> <p>Three out of four people who contract dengue won’t even get sick, and for those who do the symptoms can be mild and they often recover in a matter of days.</p> <p>About one in 20 people who become sick with dengue will be hit by a severe form and in the worst cases, the disease can lead to shock, internal bleeding and death. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Caring

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“Target on his back”: Ben Roberts-Smith’s spectacular closing remarks

<p dir="ltr">After 100 days of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/key-witness-arrested-in-ben-roberts-smith-trial" target="_blank" rel="noopener">testimony</a>, cross-examination, and dissection of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/multiple-bombshells-dropped-in-ben-roberts-smith-case" target="_blank" rel="noopener">evidence</a>, Ben Robert-Smith’s defamation trial is at the beginning of the end.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lawyers representing the veteran began their closing submissions by accusing <em>The Age</em>, <em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em>, <em>The Canberra Times</em>, and three journalists of embarking on a “sustained campaign” to falsely portray him as a war criminal, bully and domestic abuser.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mr Roberts-Smith was an exceptional soldier; highly organised, disciplined, a leader, resourceful and extraordinarily brave,” his barrister, Arthus Moses SC, told the Federal Court on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He did not seek, nor did he want any recognition for performing his duties as a member of the Australian Defence Force. What he did not expect is, having been awarded the Victoria Cross, he would have a target on his back.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Moses told Justice Anthony Besanko, who has been overseeing the proceedings, that the trial had been called “a great many things”, including the “trial of the century”, a “proxy war-crimes trial” and an “attack” on press freedom.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is none of these,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This has been a case about how Mr Roberts-Smith, the most decorated Australian soldier, and a man with a high reputation for courage, skill and decency in soldiering, had that reputation destroyed by the respondents.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The articles, published in mid-2018, claimed that Mr Roberts-Smith killed or was complicit in the killing of six unarmed prisoners during his deployment in Afghanistan with the SAS.</p> <p dir="ltr">It was alleged he also bullied other soldiers and physically abused a woman he was having an affair with.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Victoria Cross recipient has emphatically denied all allegations, while the newspapers have relied on a truth defence during the trial, calling dozens of current and former SAS soldiers to testify.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Moses began his address by denouncing the conduct of the Nine newspapers, claiming they refused to back down from errors in their stories and taking aim at the evidence provided by three of their witnesses: Person 7, Person 14, and Andrew Hastie, a former soldier-turned politician.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The publications of the respondents were based on rumour, hearsay and contradictory accounts from former colleagues who were, some, jealous, and/or obsessed with Mr Roberts-Smith,” Mr Moses said, adding that Mr Hastie was “obsessed” with Mr Roberts-Smith but failed to provide evidence to support the murder claims.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Hastie, who served with Mr Roberts-Smith briefly in 2012, was called to testify about a mission in Syahchow and claims that the veteran soldier had ordered a junior soldier, referred to as Person 66, to execute an Afghan captive during the mission.</p> <p dir="ltr">The MP told the court he was at Syahchow that day and saw a dead body with an AK-47 rifle, and that Person 66 looked uncharacteristically uneasy.</p> <p dir="ltr">He claimed that Mr Roberts-Smith walked past and said, “Just a couple more dead c***s”.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, Person 66 refused to testify about the mission on the grounds of self-incrimination.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Moses claimed there was no evidence to support Nine’s claim of murder, and that the “sensationalist” stories came from bitter and jealous SAS insiders who wanted to take Mr Roberts-Smith down.</p> <p dir="ltr">"What is apparent is that both journalists (Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters) have mounted a sustained campaign to unfairly create a belief that Mr Roberts-Smith had committed war crimes in Afghanistan, including during the course of these proceedings," he said.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-49c8da02-7fff-5dad-8a44-7edea12667de"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Each side has been allocated four days for a closing address.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Our favourite highlights of the close of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

<div>Day three of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations closed with an extravagant show in front of Buckingham Palace.</div> <div> </div> <div>The Party at the Palace concert kicked off at 8 pm local time, featured a huge line-up with the likes of Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys and Hans Zimmer.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Here is a rundown on some of the key moments:</strong></div> <div>The concert opened with a skit of the Queen sitting down to tea with fellow British icon Paddington Bear.</div> <div> </div> <div>A well prepared Paddington Bear offered the Queen an emergency marmalade sandwich, something he keeps stashed in his hat — but it turned out that was unnecessary, as The Queen also came prepared.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Lee Mack's Partygate joke:</strong></div> <div>Popular British comedian, Lee Mack cracked Partygate joke, following the infamous investigations into a series of parties allegedly held by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at his official residence during the countries strict Covid-19 lockdown.</div> <div> </div> <div>Mack referenced the Partygate affair while on stage, saying:</div> <div> </div> <div>"Welcome to the Platinum Party at the Palace!</div> <div> </div> <div>"We are here right outside the gates of Buckingham Palace for the party of a lifetime.</div> <div> </div> <div>"And I tell you what, finally we can say the words "party" and "gate" and it's a positive.</div> <div> </div> <div>"That wasn't in the autocue …"</div> <div> </div> <div>Mr Johnson has been urged to resign and was in fact, booed on arrival at the Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>The Performances:</strong></div> <div>Queen stunned the audience, with Adam Lambert on vocals.</div> <div> </div> <div>They played We Will Rock You and Don't Stop Me Now, with military drummers adding something extra to the performance.</div> <div> </div> <div>Guitarist Brian May really drove the whole "queen" reference home by popping up above the stage in front of the Queen Victoria statue.</div> <div> </div> <div>Later in the concert, Sam Ryder played Space Man — the song that earned him second place in the Eurovision Song Contest. Of course, tweaking the words slightly, singing "space ma'am" as a nod to the Queen.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Drones lit up the sky:</strong></div> <div>A carefully coordinated drone show took to the sky to produce some rather regal images above Buckingham Palace.</div> <div> </div> <div>Prince Charles paid tribute to 'Mummy' and 'Papa':</div> <div> </div> <div>Future king Prince <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/prince-charles-emotional-tribute-to-your-majesty-mummy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Charles took to the stage to pay tribute</a> to his mother as images of the monarch were projected on the walls of Buckingham Palace.</div> <div> </div> <div>Joined on stage by his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the prince spoke about the monarch's "strength and stay" and said his "Papa", Prince Philip, was much missed.</div> <div> </div> <div>Prince William's speech followed, addressing the crowd with a focus on climate change. He remains optimistic about the future.</div> <div> </div> <div><em>Images: Getty</em></div>

Beauty & Style

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Gordon Ramsy praises pandemic for closing “bad” restaurants

<p dir="ltr">Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been caught stirring the pot again. This time, saying that a silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the forced closure of many bad restaurants taking up space in prime locations.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The crap’s gone,” Ramsay told UK magazine Radio Times in a recent interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Just sh**holes in a prime position and taking advantage because they’re in a great location, and they’ve got the footfall [have closed].</p> <p dir="ltr">“But now we’ve wiped the slate clean, which is good.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the interview, the Hell’s Kitchen host, known for being fiery in the kitchen, admitted the last two years of the pandemic have been “devastating” for the hospitality sector in Britain. He said the industry “was on its arse, but it’s getting better”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s been devastating the last two years. Landlords don’t say, ‘Take a holiday for two years.’ But I think what has been evident for all of us is the crap’s gone.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year, the restaurateur himself estimated his eateries in England lost more than $100 million in the first year of the pandemic due to loss of business during lengthy UK lockdowns.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I get criticised for being wealthy, but the responsibility on my shoulders – the livelihoods at stake – is huge,” Ramsay told The Sun at the time.</p> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr">“I do feel under pressure to give my younger members of staff, especially, some hope, and the sense that we can get out of this. There have been so many tears, people at their wits’ end.”</p> <p dir="ltr">At the start of the pandemic in April 2020, more than 1.5 million hospitality workers in the UK were furloughed. It accounted for a quarter of all furloughed staff across Britain.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last year in the week leading up to Christmas, as the Omicron variant ripped through the UK, pubs, bars and restaurants each lost on average $18,000 in what should have been the busiest trading week of the year.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the recent interview with Radio Times, the 55-year-old said throughout the pandemic, restaurants have had to “raise their game” to stay alive.</p> <p dir="ltr">He said that it has meant a positive outcome of the last two years is that customers are getting better quality from eateries.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Customers have got so much smarter in the last two years,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They know a lot more about food than they ever have done and have been making their own sourdough, so it’s taught everyone [in the restaurant industry] to raise their game.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s wiped the arrogance from the industry.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ramsay takes over Jamie Oliver’s ‘failure’. Gordon recently took advantage of a business closing himself, when he took over a location formerly owned by fellow celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in Liverpool, England.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s sad that Jamie didn’t make it here – the site is amazing”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It was never my intention to take over Jamie’s Italian. Jamie and I are mates everyone thinks we’re not, but we are. Two summers ago we sat in the garden with our kids and had an amazing evening talking, drinking, laughing, crying and just having a proper heart-to-heart.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It had nothing to do with it being his old site. Whether it was Marco Pierre White or Jamie Oliver, it didn’t matter who had the house beforehand. The location was absolutely spot on.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Where Jamie failed, there’s a big learning curve for all of us. One man’s failure is the next man’s success.”</p> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr">The site is the new home to Ramsay’s 35th restaurant – the Liverpool Bread Street Kitchen &amp; Bar.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Madeleine McCann case to be closed

<p dir="ltr">The 15-year investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is set to be closed because police fear the suspect won’t be charged.</p> <p dir="ltr">German convicted paedophile and rapist Christian Bruekner was arrested as the prime suspect in the case back in 2020. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, police believe there is insufficient evidence to charge Bruekner, who was living in a campervan near the resort at the time of her family’s stay.</p> <p dir="ltr">Madeleine McCann was only three years old when she vanished from her family’s hotel room at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, in Portugal’s Algarve region in 2007, while her parents had dinner at a nearby restaurant.</p> <p dir="ltr">Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London Metropolitan Police, are set to close Operation Grange later in the year after launching it in 2010, three years after Madeleine disappeared.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The end of the road for Operation Grange is now in sight,” a UK source told <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18004401/madeleine-mccann-inquiry-end/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Sun</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The team's work is expected to be completed by autumn. There are currently no plans to take the inquiry any further."</p> <p dir="ltr">The case was due to be closed at the end of March, but investigators applied for an extension until September in the event new evidence comes to light.</p> <p dir="ltr">Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, both 54, have been notified of the case winding down. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Legal

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What happens to your money when borders close?

<p dir="ltr">It’s probably on everybody’s bucket list to travel the world…or wherever they can afford.</p> <p dir="ltr">After two years of closed borders thanks to Covid, some individuals are still waiting for their refund for the trips that never happened. </p> <p dir="ltr">Australian owned and operated online travel company checkmyfares.com has recently come under fire for not refunding the money to their customers who weren’t able to travel. </p> <p dir="ltr">Jonathan Sanderson spent $3,200 on flights to Fiji and was unable to go due to the pandemic which saw Australia’s borders close. </p> <p dir="ltr">Almost two years since the borders shut, Mr Sanderson is still waiting for his money. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I want my refund and I want it now," he told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/travel-company-refuses-customers-holiday-their-refunds/aaf75d38-735a-483e-8a27-e1eeeabd74f1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Current Affair</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I think it's disgusting. I can't believe a company like this can operate in Australia and get away with it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Fifi Sajuit was another customer waiting on $6,700 for a cancelled trip to Canada.</p> <p dir="ltr">She received confirmation from Air Canada that her tickets were refunded when in fact they weren’t. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Sajuit was eventually refunded most of her money after the episode aired, but she claims they “treated me really badly” every time she asked for it. </p> <p dir="ltr">Consumer advocate Adam Glezer slammed the company’s behaviour toward customers, saying money should always be given back “as soon as possible”.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You shouldn't be holding on to anyone's money for any lengthy period of time at all," he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If a travel agent of any kind receives money back, they should be giving it back as soon as possible."</p> <p dir="ltr">The company issued a statement to the program saying they had been working with clients non-stop throughout the pandemic. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Checkmyfares.com</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Queen's health fears after "close contact" meeting with Charles

<p>As Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time, Buckingham Palace have expressed their concerns for the Queen. </p><p>Charles' positive result was announced by Clarence House on Thursday evening, and confirmed the royal was isolating and had cancelled all upcoming events.</p><p>"HRH is deeply disappointed not to be able to attend today's events in Winchester and will look to reschedule his visit as soon as possible," Clarence House said. </p><p>Clarence House went on to confirm that Prince Charles is triple vaccinated, but did not state the severity of his Covid symptoms. </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">This morning The Prince of Wales has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating.<br /><br />HRH is deeply disappointed not to be able to attend today's events in Winchester and will look to reschedule his visit as soon as possible.</p>— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) <a href="https://twitter.com/ClarenceHouse/status/1491743935647166468?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 10, 2022</a></blockquote><p>As news of his diagnosis arose, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Charles had met with his mother Queen Elizabeth earlier this week. </p><p>The palace said Her Majesty is currently "not displaying any symptoms" but would continue to be monitored.</p><p>While it is unknown exactly when the royal met, Prince Charles performed a round of investitures at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, where the Queen had returned the day before from Sandringham. </p><p>Prince Charles' Covid diagnosis comes just one day after he and Camilla attended a large gathering for the British Museum for the British Asian Trust, where they met with dozens of people including UK Treasury chief Rishi Sunak.</p><p>The Duchess of Cornwall tested negative Thursday morning and went ahead with a number of planned engagements, including a visit to a London community food hub.</p><p>This is the second time Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid, after he contracted the virus in March 2020 after having suffered "mild symptoms".</p><p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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