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Julian Assange has been in the headlines for almost two decades. Here’s why he’s such a significant public figure

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-ricketson-3616">Matthew Ricketson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” is a famous quotation usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson, a founder of US democracy.</p> <p>For Julian Assange, the price of freedom has been five years in jail while he fought extradition to the United States to face charges no democracy worthy of the name should ever have brought.</p> <p>It is profoundly heartening news to see Assange’s release from London’s Belmarsh prison and flight home to Australia via a US territory in the western pacific. He’ll face a hearing and sentencing <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-plea-deal-what-does-it-mean-for-the-wikileaks-founder-and-what-happens-now-233207">this morning</a> in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, to formalise a plea deal with the US government.</p> <p>It is profoundly disheartening, though, to see the lengths to which a nation state has gone to punish a publisher who released documents and videos that revealed US troops allegedly committing war crimes in the Iraq war two decades ago.</p> <p>Assange has been a controversial international figure for so many years now it’s easy to lose sight of what he has done, why he attracted such fiercely polarised views, and what his incarceration means for journalism and democracy.</p> <h2>What did he do?</h2> <p>Assange, an Australian national, came to prominence in the 2000s for setting up <a href="https://wikileaks.org/">WikiLeaks</a>, a website that published leaked government, military and intelligence documents disclosing a range of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47907890">scandals</a> in various countries.</p> <p>Most of the documents were released in full. For Assange, this fulfilled his aim of radical transparency. For critics, it led to the release of documents that could <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2011/9/3/wikileaks-criticised-over-uncensored-cables">endanger the lives</a> of intelligence sources.</p> <p>This remains a point of contention. Some have asserted Assange’s attitude toward those named in leaked documents was cavalier and that the publication of some documents was <a href="https://apnews.com/article/b70da83fd111496dbdf015acbb7987fb">simply unnecessary</a>.</p> <p>But critics, especially those in the US military, have been unable to point to <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-new-book-argues-julian-assange-is-being-tortured-will-our-new-pm-do-anything-about-it-183622">specific instances</a> in which the release of documents has led to a person’s death. In 2010, Joe Biden, the then vice-president, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna40702904">acknowledged</a> WikiLeaks’ publications had caused “no substantive damage”. Then US Defense Secretary Robert Gates <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/04/12/712659290/how-much-did-wikileaks-damage-u-s-national-security">said</a> at the time countries dealt with the US because it was in their best interests, “not because they believe we can keep secrets”.</p> <p>The key to WikiLeaks’ success was that Assange and his colleagues found a way to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-11026659">encrypt the documents</a> and make them untraceable, to protect whistleblower sources from official retribution. It was a strategy later <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/05/guardian-launches-securedrop-whistleblowers-documents">copied</a> by mainstream media organisations.</p> <p>WikiLeaks became famous around the globe in April 2010 when it released hundreds of thousands of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47907890">documents</a> in tranches known as the Afghan war logs, the Iraq war logs and Cablegate. They revealed numerous alleged war crimes and provided the raw material for a shadow history of the disastrous wars waged by the Americans and their allies, including Australia, in Afghanistan and Iraq following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.</p> <p>Documents are one thing, video another. Assange released <a href="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/transcoded/6/61/CollateralMurder.ogv/CollateralMurder.ogv.360p.vp9.webm">a video</a> called “Collateral Murder”. It showed US soldiers in a helicopter shooting and killing Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists in 2007.</p> <p>Apart from how the soldiers in the video speak – “Hahaha, I hit them”, “Nice”, “Good shot” – it looks like most of the victims are civilians and the journalists’ cameras are mistaken for rifles.</p> <p>When one of the wounded men tries to crawl to safety, the helicopter crew, instead of allowing their US comrades on the ground to take him prisoner as required by <a href="https://www.icrc.org/en/rules-of-war">the rules of war</a>, seeks permission to shoot him again.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-1064" class="tc-infographic" style="border: none;" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/1064/0f0903c8d2249ac24316f2a86f5e0f231b6546e6/site/index.html" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The soldiers’ request for authorisation to shoot is granted. The wounded man is carried to a nearby minibus, which is then shot to pieces with the helicopter’s gun. The driver and two other rescuers are killed instantly while the driver’s two young children inside are seriously wounded.</p> <p>US army command investigated the matter, <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-new-book-argues-julian-assange-is-being-tortured-will-our-new-pm-do-anything-about-it-183622">concluding</a> the soldiers acted in accordance with the rules of war. Despite this, US prosecutors <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jun/15/julian-assange-indictment-fails-to-mention-wikileaks-video-that-exposed-us-war-crimes-in-iraq">didn’t include</a> the video in its indictment against Assange, leading to accusations it didn’t want such material further exposed in public.</p> <p>Equally to the point, the public would never have known an alleged war crime had been committed without the release of the video.</p> <h2>Going into exile</h2> <p>Assange and WikiLeaks had no sooner become famous than it all began to come to a halt.</p> <p>He was alleged to have sexually assaulted <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50473792">two women</a>. He holed up the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/americas/ecuador-to-let-assange-stay-in-its-embassy.html">Ecuadoran embassy</a> in London for <a href="https://apnews.com/article/7276b35e8d5944e7b5ca280ab0390b26">seven years</a> to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning over the alleged assaults, from where he could then be extradited to the US. Then he was <a href="https://mondediplo.com/2024/02/11assange">imprisoned in England</a> for the past five years.</p> <p>It has been confusing to following the byzantine twists and turns of the Assange case. His character has been reviled by his opponents and revered by his supporters.</p> <p>Even journalists, who are supposed to be in the same business of speaking truth to power, have adopted contradictory stances towards Assange, oscillating between giving him awards (a <a href="https://www.walkleys.com/board-statement-4-16/">Walkley</a> for his outstanding contribution to journalism) and shunning him (<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/opinion/julian-assange-wikileaks.html">The New York Times</a> has said he is a source rather than a journalist).</p> <h2>Personal suffering</h2> <p>After Sweden eventually <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50473792">dropped</a> the sexual assault charges, the US government swiftly ramped up its request to extradite Assange to face charges under the Espionage Act, which, if successful, could have led to a jail term of up to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/article/2024/jun/25/explainer-who-is-julian-assange-and-what-are-the-details-of-his-plea-deal#:%7E:text=After%20his%20departure%20from%20the,to%20175%20years%20in%20prison.">175 years</a>.</p> <p>Until this week, most of the recent headlines about Assange have been about this extradition attempt. Most recently, he was granted the <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assanges-appeal-to-avoid-extradition-will-go-ahead-it-could-be-legally-groundbreaking-227859">right to appeal</a> the UK Home Secretary’s order that he be extradited to the US.</p> <p>This brings us to now, where if all goes according to legal planning, Assange will <a href="https://theconversation.com/julian-assange-plea-deal-what-does-it-mean-for-the-wikileaks-founder-and-what-happens-now-233207">plead guilty</a> to one count under the US Espionage Act, then fly back to Australia.</p> <p>But the long, protracted and very public case, legal or otherwise, has raised questions yet to be fully reckoned with.</p> <p>Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, thoroughly investigated the case against Assange and laid it out in forensic detail in a <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-new-book-argues-julian-assange-is-being-tortured-will-our-new-pm-do-anything-about-it-183622">2022 book</a>.</p> <p>In it, he wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>The Assange case is the story of a man who is being persecuted and abused for exposing the dirty secrets of the powerful, including war crimes, torture and corruption. It is a story of deliberate judicial arbitrariness in Western democracies that are otherwise keen to present themselves as exemplary in the area of human rights.</p> </blockquote> <p>He’s also suffered significantly in legal and diplomatic processes in at least four countries.</p> <p>Since being imprisoned in 2019, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/article/2024/jun/25/julian-assange-plea-deal-with-us-free-to-return-australia#:%7E:text=WikiLeaks%20said%20on%20X%20that,isolated%2023%20hours%20a%20day%E2%80%9D">Assange’s team says</a> he’s spent much of that time in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, has been denied all but the most limited access to his legal team, let alone family and friends, and was kept in a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-54060427">glass box</a> during his seemingly interminable extradition hearing.</p> <p>His physical and mental health have suffered to the point where he has been put on <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wikileaks-julian-assange-at-very-high-risk-of-suicide-attempt-psychiatric-expert-tells-court/">suicide watch</a>. Again, that seems to be the point, as Melzer writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>The primary purpose of persecuting Assange is not – and never has been – to punish him personally, but to establish a generic precedent with a global deterrent effect on other journalist, publicists and activists.</p> </blockquote> <p>So while Assange himself is human and his suffering real, his lengthy time in the spotlight have turned him into more of a symbol. This is true whether you think of him as the hero exposing the dirty secrets of governments, or as something much more sinister.</p> <p>If his experience has taught us anything, it’s that speaking truth to power can come at an unfathomable personal cost.<!-- 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/233232/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/matthew-ricketson-3616">Matthew Ricketson</a>, Professor of Communication, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Vianney Le Caer/Shutterstock Editorial</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/julian-assange-has-been-in-the-headlines-for-almost-two-decades-heres-why-hes-such-a-significant-public-figure-233232">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Legal

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Princess Kate makes first public appearance since cancer diagnosis

<p>The Princess of Wales has made her first public appearance in almost six months following her cancer diagnosis. </p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Princess Kate</span>, who was last seen in public at a church service on Christmas Day, underwent abdominal surgery in January and has been receiving chemotherapy since late February. </p> <p>The royal took part in Trooping the Colour on Saturday, after taking time away from royal duties, and left Buckingham Palace in a carriage with her children shortly before 11am local time to watch the parade. </p> <p>After the King's Birthday Parade, she appeared at the balcony alongside King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William and other members of the royal family. </p> <p>The family waved to the cheering crowd as they watched military aircrafts fly by to mark the monarch's official birthday. </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/p/C8Pt2DrN61b/?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/p/C8Pt2DrN61b/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The Prince and Princess of Wales (@princeandprincessofwales)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Princess Kate confirmed in a statement on Friday that she would be attending the King's Birthday Parade, as well as a few other public engagements over the summer. </p> <p>However, she also said that her treatment was "ongoing, and will be for a few more months". </p> <p>"On the days I feel well enough, it is a joy to engage with school life, spend personal time on the things that give me energy and positivity, as well as starting to do a little work from home," she wrote in the statement on Friday. </p> <p>"I am learning how to be patient, especially with uncertainty.</p> <p>"Taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and allowing myself to take this much needed time to heal."</p> <p>King Charles, who is also being treated for an undisclosed form of cancer, travelled in a carriage with Queen Camilla this year, instead of on horseback as he did last year. </p> <p>He has also been easing back into public duties, and just last week he attended commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. </p> <p><em>Image: Ray Tang/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p>

Caring

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King Charles returns to public duties for the first time since diagnosis

<p>King Charles has made his first official public appearance since being diagnosed with cancer in February. </p> <p>In a symbolic appearance on Tuesday morning, the royal visited the Macmillan Cancer Centre at the University College Hospital donning a navy pinstripe suit with a light blue shirt and a pink dinosaur tie.</p> <p>The monarch was joined by his wife, Queen Camilla, with the couple sporting huge smiles as they waved to the crowd outside of the London hospital. </p> <p>The royal couple met with clinicians, patients and families of patients during the visit, and when asked by one patient how his treatment was going, Charles replied: "I'm alright, thank you".</p> <p>In one photo Charles can be seen tenderly placing his hand on the arms of a patient as he spoke with them. </p> <p>One patient discussed her chemotherapy with Charles, who who told her: “I’ve got to have my treatment this afternoon as well,” according to the <em>Mirror</em>.</p> <p>He also shared his reaction to finding out about his diagnosis for the first time, telling one patient: “It’s always a bit of a shock, isn’t it, when they tell you?”</p> <p>The King's hospital visit comes just days after the Palace released a statement confirming that he was showing progress with his treatment and would be resuming official duties. </p> <p>“His Majesty The King will shortly return to public-facing duties after a period of treatment and recuperation following his recent cancer diagnosis,”  it read, before announcing the visit to the cancer centre. </p> <p>“This visit will be the first in a number of external engagements His Majesty will undertake in the weeks ahead.”</p> <p>Despite this, his upcoming summer schedule would not be a full one, with events like the King's Birthday parade, known as Trooping the Colour, and the Royal Ascot, being undertaken on a case-by-case basis. </p> <p>He also plans to host the Emperor and Empress of Japan in late June. </p> <p>“As the first anniversary of the Coronation approaches, Their Majesties remain deeply grateful for the many kindnesses and good wishes they have received from around the world throughout the joys and challenges of the past year,” the statement concluded. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Princess Kate filmed in public for the first time since Christmas

<p>The Princess of Wales has been filmed for the first time since Christmas, after her absence sparked wild global <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/kate-middleton-s-disappearance-sparks-bizarre-conspiracy-theories" target="_blank" rel="noopener">speculation</a> on her whereabouts. </p> <p>Kate Middleton looked happy and relaxed in <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/royals/26766840/princess-kate-middleton-shopping-trip-video-william/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently published footage </a>of her shopping trip with her husband, Prince William. </p> <p>In footage exclusively obtained by <em>TMZ</em> and <em>The Sun, </em>the royal was filmed dressed comfortably in a hoodie and dark leggings, as she carried her shopping and walked alongside Prince William on their way to the car park. </p> <p>This is the first time the royal has been filmed in public since her <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/two-senior-royals-undergo-surgery" target="_blank" rel="noopener">"planned abdominal surgery"</a>, aside from two blurry <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/kate-middleton-spotted-for-the-first-time-since-surgery" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paparazzi pictures</a> of her in the backseat of a car, and reports that she was spotted <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/princess-kate-spotted-in-public-amid-wild-speculations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">out with her kids </a>on Saturday morning. </p> <p>Witnesses at Princess Kate's favourite farm shop reportedly said that she looked “happy, relaxed and healthy” as she ventured from her home in Windsor to the nearby store. </p> <p>“Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well," witnesses said at the time. </p> <p>“The kids weren’t with them but it’s such a good sign she was healthy enough to pop down to the shops.”</p> <p>The Princess' whereabouts has been the topic of speculation for weeks, with the Palace having to <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/palace-responds-to-bizarre-conspiracy-theories-about-kate-s-whereabouts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">speak out</a> against the wild conspiracy theories on social media. </p> <p>Her last public appearance was on December 25 during the royal family’s traditional walk to the Christmas morning service in Sandringham.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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Princess Kate "spotted in public" amid wild speculations

<p>The Princess of Wales has reportedly been spotted in public for the first time since her "planned abdominal surgery". </p> <p>Kate Middleton was reportedly spotted watching her children play sports at a location near her family's Windsor home.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/royals/26750949/princess-kate-windsor-farm-shop-william/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The Sun</em></a>, the royal looked “happy, relaxed and healthy” as she spent Saturday morning watching Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, play sports. </p> <p>She later on reportedly visited her favourite farm shop located near her Adelaide Cottage home, with witnesses saying they were stunned to see the royal out and about, following the wild <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/princess-kate-s-post-surgery-pic-ignites-even-wilder-conspiracy-theories" target="_blank" rel="noopener">conspiracy theories</a> that emerged after the royal received criticism for editing a Mother's Day photo. </p> <p>“After all the rumours that had been going round I was stunned to see them there," a witness at the farm shop reportedly told <em>The Sun</em>. </p> <p>“Kate was out shopping with William and she looked happy and she looked well.</p> <p>“The kids weren’t with them but it’s such a good sign she was healthy enough to pop down to the shops.”</p> <p>However, no photos of her have been published. </p> <p>This is the first time she has been out and about since her surgery and could signal her return to public duties, although the Palace has previously said that she won't return to official duties until after Easter. </p> <p>The Princess of Wales was last photographed seated in the back of a car, next to Prince William as they were reportedly on their way to London. </p> <p>She was replaced by Lady Ghika, wife of the regiment's Major General St Chris Ghika, in her role as honorary coronel of the Irish Guards for St. Patrick's Day on March 17. </p> <p>Members from the Irish Guards gave three cheers to absent Kate, as a mark of respect for the royal. </p> <p>There are speculations that she will join the royals for their traditional public walk on Easter Sunday.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Channel 9 host goes public with new romance

<p>Channel 9 personality Sophie Walsh has gone public with her relationship with Sydney Sixers cricketer Moises Henriques. </p> <p>The Today host confirmed their relationship with an adorable photo of the couple from inside Taylor Swift’s Saturday night blockbuster at Accor Stadium in Sydney.</p> <p>The pair were pictured cuddling up to each other as they posed with Taylor Swift playing in the background. </p> <p><em>News Corp</em> first revealed the pair have quietly been seeing each other recently, with the first signs of their relationship shared on Walsh's Instagram page in January.</p> <p>The couple posed in one of the stadiums with their arms around each other and Walsh captioned it with a simple black heart emoji. </p> <p>Radio and TV presenter Dan Anstey, who was one of the first to comment on the picture at the time, playfully said: "He's a keeper."</p> <p><em>Today Show </em>colleague Jayne Azzopardi wrote: "This makes me happy ❤️ 🏏"</p> <p>"Love this," added Tracy Vo. </p> <p>"Winners are grinners. ❤️" wrote<em> Nine News</em> weather presenter, Belinda Russell.  </p> <p>Henriques, 37, is a popular figure in Australian cricket, having represented Australia in all three formats of the game.</p> <p>He has a a four-year-old son from his former marriage with ex-partner Krista Thomas, who he got married to in 2018. </p> <p>Henriques has not yet shared any photos with Walsh on his own Instagram page.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

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Sarah Ferguson makes first public appearance since skin cancer diagnosis

<p>Sarah Ferguson has made her first public appearance since her <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/fergie-reveals-second-cancer-diagnosis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">skin cancer diagnosis</a> was announced almost two weeks ago. </p> <p>The Duchess of York made an unexpected appearance at the <em>Haute Living Celebrates The Haute 100</em> event in Miami, Florida on Monday. </p> <p>Fergie rocked a military-style black and white blazer over a black dress for the cocktail event, and appeared happier than ever as she posed for the cameras. </p> <p>The 64-year-old was pictured cuddling up to and interacting with fellow guests at the event. </p> <p>This comes just two weeks after the Duchess <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/fergie-breaks-silence-amid-second-cancer-battle" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opened up</a> on her second cancer diagnosis in a year. </p> <p>"I have been taking some time to myself as I have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, my second cancer diagnosis within a year," she said in the Instagram post at the time.</p> <p>She also recently opened up on her recovery from breast cancer, following her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.</p> <p>The Duchess expressed her gratitude to her two daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for their constant support. </p> <p>"My two wonderful daughters are my wholehearted cheerleaders, my devoted champions and my soulmates, and they have been as supportive as can be, as they always are," she told <em>People magazine </em>at the time.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty </em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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Ultimate holiday hack to turn just 17 days of leave into 45 days of leisure

<p>As we bid a fond farewell to 2023, it's time to embark on a journey to the land of strategic annual leave planning!</p> <p>If you've ever dreamed of turning 17 days into a mind-blowing 45 days of leisure, all while maintaining the illusion that you're a dedicated worker, you're in for a treat. Let's delve into the art of time manipulation, the Australian way!</p> <p><strong>1. The Great Christmas/New Year Escape: 10 Days of Holiday Magic</strong></p> <p>Picture this: You, sipping a cocktail on a beach, far, far away from workplace shenanigans. To achieve this utopia, sacrifice a mere three workdays from December 27–29, and voila! You've magically transformed a three-day leave into a decadent ten-day escapade. Christmas and New Year's resolutions? More like "Avoiding Office Drama and Perfecting My Tan".</p> <p><strong>2. Australia Day 2024: Because One Long Weekend Isn't Enough</strong></p> <p>To those who believe in the power of the long weekend, rejoice! By judiciously taking a single day off on January 29, you can extend the Australia Day break into a glorious four-day affair. This means more time for BBQs, cricket, and pretending to understand the rules of cricket.</p> <p><strong>3. The Great Easter Egg Hunt (for Extra Leave Days): 10 Days of Bunny Bliss</strong></p> <p>Hop into Easter with a bang by utilising four days of leave (April 2–5). This cunning plan transforms a regular four-day weekend into a lavish ten-day extravaganza. You'll have so much time; you might even consider crafting an intricate Easter egg treasure map for your colleagues. After all, sharing is caring.</p> <p><strong>4. ANZAC Day 2024: A Gallant Nine-Day Journey</strong></p> <p>For those who appreciate a good remembrance day, why not remember to take four days off? By strategically choosing your leave days around ANZAC Day, you can turn a regular nine-to-five existence into a leisurely nine-day bliss. It's the perfect opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of the past while contemplating your sacrifice of precious annual leave for maximum leisure.</p> <p><strong>5. The Grand Finale: Christmas and New Year 2024/25</strong></p> <p>Looking to dominate the festive season and secure a 12-day break? Fear not! By cunningly using five days of leave (December 23–31), you can transform a modest two-day weekend into a 12-day holiday bonanza. It's like taking a break in 2025 while still clinging desperately to the end of 2024. Time travel, anyone?</p> <p>In conclusion, dear Aussie worker bees, remember that strategic annual leave planning is an art, a dance between days off and public holidays. While others are stuck in the mundane, you'll be sipping piña coladas in your time-warped holiday paradise.</p> <p>So go forth, plan wisely, and may your leave days be as abundant as your laughter during this comedic time-travel adventure!</p> <p><em>Image: Getty </em></p>

Travel Tips

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Celine Dion's first public appearance in years since cruel diagnosis

<p>Celine Dion, the iconic Canadian singer, has recently made a triumphant return to the public eye after a few years of battling a rare neurological disorder called Stiff Person Syndrome. This inspiring comeback took place as she attended a hockey game in Las Vegas, watching the match between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Montreal Canadiens alongside her sons, René-Charles, and twins, Eddy and Nelson.</p> <p>After the thrilling game, Dion made her way to the locker room, and her visit was captured in images and a reel shared by the Montreal Canadiens, the team she came to support.</p> <p>In the clip, the embattled singer appeared to be in high spirits as she interacted with players and coaches, expressing her delight at meeting them all.</p> <p>The Montreal Canadiens shared their excitement on social media in what was a heartwarming moment for both Dion and her fans – especially getting to witness her enthusiasm and resilience.</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/CzFTVOwLPUP/?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/CzFTVOwLPUP/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Canadiens de Montréal (@canadiensmtl)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Stiff Person Syndrome is an extremely rare neurological disorder that primarily affects the nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this condition manifests in symptoms such as extreme muscle stiffness, rigidity, and painful spasms in the trunk and limbs, significantly impeding mobility.</p> <p>Dion's battle with Stiff Person Syndrome forced her to postpone some tour dates, as the disorder was affecting her ability to sing the way she was accustomed to. In a video clip shared on social media, she addressed her fans and revealed her determination to overcome the challenges posed by this condition.</p> <p>"I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again," she shared. "But I have to admit it's been a struggle." Dion's candour about her struggles and her unwavering commitment to her recovery have earned her even more admiration from her fans.</p> <p>Celine Dion's journey with Stiff Person Syndrome has been a testament to her strength and resilience. She has shown that even in the face of a rare and debilitating condition, she refuses to be defeated. Her determination to regain her ability to perform is a source of inspiration to all who face adversity in their lives.</p> <p>It's worth noting that Celine Dion has faced significant personal challenges in the past, most notably the loss of her husband, René Angélil, in 2016 to throat cancer. Despite these difficulties, she has continued to be a shining star in the world of music. Her return to the public eye, following her battle with Stiff Person Syndrome, is a testament to her enduring spirit and the deep connection she has with her fans.</p> <p>As Celine Dion makes her way back into the spotlight, her fans around the world eagerly await her return to the stage, where her powerful voice and indomitable spirit will undoubtedly continue to inspire and uplift us all. Her story serves as a reminder that with determination and a strong support system, even the most formidable challenges can be overcome.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Sydney Opera House at 50: a public appeal, a controversial build, a lavish opening – and a venue for all

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-arrow-45">Michelle Arrow</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>It is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It has an instantly recognisable silhouette that adorns tea towels, bottle openers and souvenir sweatshirts.</p> <p>Miniature versions huddle in snow domes. You can build your own from <a href="https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/sydney-opera-house-10234">Lego</a>. Bidjigal artist and elder Esme Timbery constructed a replica in her trademark <a href="https://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/volume_7_number_2/papers/displaying_the_decorative">shell art</a>. Ken Done put it on doona covers and bikinis. If you search the hashtag on Instagram, you will see over a million posts.</p> <p>Fifty years ago today, after a prolonged and controversial period of construction, the Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in a lavish ceremony.</p> <p>Spectators carrying flasks of coffee and cushions watched from the sidelines. More than 2,000 small boats viewed the ceremony from the water.</p> <p>After the national anthem was played and nine F111 aircraft roared overhead, the crowd heard a didgeridoo and Aboriginal actor Ben Blakeney delivered a prologue “representing the <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110753207">spirit of Bennelong</a>”.</p> <p>In her speech, the Queen remarked the Opera House had “captured the imagination of the world”.</p> <p>The opening festivities gestured both to Australia’s deep Indigenous roots and white imperial origins. The building itself symbolised a new era of state investment in cultural infrastructure. This was a hallmark of the “new nationalism” in the 1970s: the arts were regarded as essential to Australia’s newly confident sense of national identity.</p> <p>Today, the Sydney Opera House reminds us Australia can value culture for its own sake. But what did the Opera House mean to Australians when it opened 50 years ago?</p> <h2>Building the Opera House</h2> <p>The campaign for an Opera House in Sydney was initiated by Sir Eugene Goosens, who came to Australia as conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1947. He found a sympathetic ear in Joe Cahill, the Labor premier who committed Bennelong Point to the project and launched an international competition to design the building in 1955.</p> <p>This part of the story is well-known (indeed, there was even an <a href="https://www.theeighthwondertheopera.com">opera</a>). Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s bold, avant garde design won the competition and construction began in 1961, funded – in a democratic touch – by the NSW government’s Opera House lottery.</p> <p>Construction was plagued by difficulties and expanding costs. Utzon famously resigned from the project in 1966; Australian architect Peter Hall oversaw the construction of the interior.</p> <p>In spite of the jokes and doubts, by the time the building was finished, Australians had embraced the Opera House as their own.</p> <p>The Queen tactfully acknowledged the building’s construction delays in her speech at the opening ceremony, <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110753207">suggesting</a> “every great imaginative venture has had to be tempered by the fire of controversy”.</p> <h2>Cringe and strut</h2> <p>As historians Richard White and Sylvia Lawson <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/35026797/version/50553486?keyword=symbols%20of%20Australia">note</a>, while the Opera House was intended for all performing arts, the centrality of opera – with its expense and small audiences – made a symbolic statement a “new, more sophisticated Australia” had arrived.</p> <p>As Australia sought to find an identity independent of Britain, the Opera House became a symbol of this new nationalist turn.</p> <p>Some fitted the Opera House into older narratives of Britishness: in his book Sydney Builds an Opera House, Oswald Zeigler remarked we needed to thank Captain Arthur Phillip “for finding the site for this symbol of the Australian cultural revolution”.</p> <p><a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110752757">Gough Whitlam declared</a> it was "a magnificent building, Our civilisations are known by their buildings and future generations will honour the people of this generation […] by this building."</p> <p>In spite of this, there was still cultural cringe. The <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110753207">Canberra Times</a> reported the British media believed the Opera House was a sign that “the country had turned a corner artistically”. It was a telling sign of cultural cringe that their opinions were sought at all.</p> <p>The Opera House was part of an Australian cultural renaissance in 1973. The ABC broadcast an adaptation of Ethel Turner’s beloved Seven Little Australians. The bawdy Alvin Purple was a box-office smash. Patrick White became the first (and so far, only) Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The new wave of Australian drama was in full swing, and the Opera House’s opening season included a play by new wave star David Williamson alongside Shakespeare’s Richard II.</p> <p>Historians have nominated many emblems for the new nationalist mood (from the new national anthem to The Adventures of Barry McKenzie) but I would suggest the Opera House embodies it best: the soaring sails, the bold, rich colours of the interiors, and John Coburn’s glorious, confident curtains for the performance venues.</p> <h2>For the elite or for the people?</h2> <p>There were always objections on the grounds that government investment would be better focused elsewhere, rather than on a performance venue for “elites”. These arguments are wearyingly familiar today.</p> <p>Premier Joe Cahill rejected this charge from the outset: in <a href="https://mhnsw.au/stories/general/sydney-opera-house-the-gold-book/">1959 he declared "</a>the average working family will be able to afford to go there […] the Opera House will, in fact, be a monument to democratic nationhood in its fullest sense."</p> <p>Cahill’s insistence this was a building for everyone to enjoy and be proud of has been fulfilled by its creative use ever since. School children regularly perform; new audiences have been drawn by musicians of all genres, from punk to Prince. But the Opera House has also been a place for creative experimentation and innovative performance – as it should be.</p> <p>Today, 50 years from its opening, the Sydney Opera House reminds us the state still has a role to play in supporting the performing and creative arts in Australia. This radiant, soaring building belongs to all of us: a great reason to celebrate its birthday.<!-- 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/213252/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><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-arrow-45"><em>Michelle Arrow</em></a><em>, Professor of History, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</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/sydney-opera-house-at-50-a-public-appeal-a-controversial-build-a-lavish-opening-and-a-venue-for-all-213252">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Body language expert analyses Hugh Jackman's last public outings with his wife

<p>A body language expert has analysed the last public outings of Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness before they <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/hugh-jackman-devastated-after-marriage-split" target="_blank" rel="noopener">announced their split</a> after 27 years of marriage. </p> <p>The couple were spotted at both the Met Gala in New York and Wimbledon in the UK earlier this year, seemingly looking like a perfect loved-up couple. </p> <p>However, Aussie body language expert Louise Mahler said there could be more than meets the eye at their public outings. </p> <p>“These are two people so well rehearsed at being with each other. They lean in together, they move in unison,” Mahler told <a href="https://7news.com.au/entertainment" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline"><em>7Life</em>.</a></p> <p>Assessing footage from their joint appearance at the Met Gala in May 2023, Mahler noticed that “at one point in the video Hugh goes to walk away and she briefly pulls him back and he stops with no hesitation”.</p> <p>“There is no giveaway whatsoever... and remember, they are both actors."</p> <p>“They are working as a team and showing total harmony.”</p> <p>However, Mahler went on to assess a specific moment from the Met Gala where the couple were gazing at one another head-on.</p> <p>“I’m going to speculate that he has left her because he’s looking at her quickly,” she said.</p> <p>“He still loves her but he’s moving on."</p> <p>“And what I see from her is, ‘I get that you’re moving on, you b******, but I will allow this’,” Mahler speculated about Furness’ body language.</p> <p>Two months after their Met Gala appearance, the couple attended Wimbledon to sit side by side and watch the game. </p> <p>Mahler acknowledged that they looked “a little cranky” but said that they were concentrated on the game and likely had cameras on them “for a long time”.</p> <p>“I don’t see that they’re pulling away from each other in any way,” she said.</p> <p>“In fact, their arms are touching the full length. This is a couple who have been together for 30 years, they know each other. I would say they still love each other, but they’re deciding to go their separate ways.”</p> <p>The Hollywood couple shocked the world on Saturday when they released a statement confirming their separation after being married for 27 years.</p> <p>“We have been blessed to share almost three decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage,” Jackman and Furness told <em><a href="https://people.com/hugh-jackman-and-deborra-lee-jackman-separate-exclusive-7970286" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">People</a></em>.</p> <p>“Our journey now is shifting and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Relationships

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Does private health insurance cut public hospital waiting lists? We found it barely makes a dent

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yuting-zhang-1144393">Yuting Zhang</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jongsay-yong-10803">Jongsay Yong</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ou-yang-937801">Ou Yang</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>The more people take up private health insurance, the <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/senate/community_affairs/completed_inquiries/1999-02/pubhosp/report/c05">less pressure</a> on the public hospital system, including <a href="https://www.privatehealthcareaustralia.org.au/australians-sign-up-to-private-health-insurance-in-record-numbers-to-avoid-hospital-waiting-lists/#:%7E:text=%22Private%20health%20insurance%20is%20the,and%20keep%20pressure%20off%20premiums.">shorter waiting lists</a> for surgery. That’s one of the key messages we’ve been hearing from government and the private health insurance industry in recent years.</p> <p>Governments <a href="https://www.privatehealth.gov.au/health_insurance/surcharges_incentives/index.htm">encourage us</a> to buy private hospital cover. They tempt us with carrots – for instance, with subsidised <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Medicare-and-private-health-insurance/Private-health-insurance-rebate/">premiums</a>. With higher-income earners, the government uses sticks – buy private cover or pay the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Medicare-and-private-health-insurance/Medicare-levy-surcharge/">Medicare Levy Surcharge</a>. These are just some of the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/delivering-australias-lowest-private-health-insurance-premium-change-in-21-years#:%7E:text=Home-,Delivering%20Australia's%20lowest%20private%20health%20insurance%20premium%20change%20in%2021,be%202.70%20percent%20in%202022">billion-dollar strategies</a> aimed to shift more of us who can afford it into the private system.</p> <p>But what if private health insurance doesn’t have any meaningful impact on public hospital waiting lists after all?</p> <p>That’s what we found in our <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/publications/working-papers/search/result?paper=4721936">recent research</a>. Our analysis suggests if an extra 65,000 people buy private health insurance, public hospital waiting lists barely shift from the average 69 days. Waiting lists are an average just eight hours shorter.</p> <p>In other words, we’ve used hospital admission and waiting-list data to show private health insurance doesn’t make much difference.</p> <h2>What we did</h2> <p>Our <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/publications/working-papers/search/result?paper=4721936">work</a> looked at data from 2014-2018 on hospital admissions and waiting lists for elective surgery in Victoria.</p> <p>The data covered all Victorians who were admitted as an inpatient in all hospitals in the state (both public and private) and those registered on the waiting list for elective surgeries in the state’s public hospitals.</p> <p>That included waiting times for surgeries where people are admitted to public hospitals (as an inpatient). We didn’t include people waiting to see specialist doctors as an outpatient.</p> <p>The data was linked at the patient level, meaning we could track what happened to individuals on the waiting list.</p> <p>We then examined the impact of more people buying private health insurance on waiting times for surgeries in the state’s public hospitals.</p> <p>We did this by looking at the uptake of private health insurance in different areas of Victoria, according to socioeconomic status. After adjusting for patient characteristics that may affect waiting times, these differences in insurance uptake allowed us to identify how this changed waiting times.</p> <h2>What we found</h2> <p>In our sample, on average <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/4721936/wp2023n09.pdf">44% of people</a> in Victoria had private health insurance. This is close to the national average of <a href="https://www.apra.gov.au/private-health-insurance-annual-coverage-survey">45%</a>.</p> <p>We found that increasing the average private health insurance take-up from 44% to 45% in Victoria would reduce waiting times in public hospitals by an average 0.34 days (or about eight hours).</p> <p>This increase of one percentage point is equivalent to 65,000 more people in Victoria (based on <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3101.0Main+Features1Jun%202018?OpenDocument">2018 population data</a>) taking up (and using) private health insurance.</p> <p>The effects vary slightly by surgical specialty. For instance, private health insurance made a bigger reduction to waiting times for knee replacements, than for cancer surgery, compared to the average. But again, the difference only came down to a few hours.</p> <p>Someone’s age also made a slight difference, but again by only a few hours compared to the average wait.</p> <p>Given the common situation facing public and private hospitals across all states and territories, and similar private health insurance take-up in many states, our findings are likely to apply outside Victoria.</p> <h2>Why doesn’t it reduce waiting lists?</h2> <p>While our research did not address this directly, there may be several reasons why private health insurance does not free up resources in the public system to reduce waiting lists:</p> <ul> <li> <p>people might buy health insurance and not use it, preferring to have free treatment in the public system rather than risk out-of-pocket costs in the private system</p> </li> <li> <p>specialists may not be willing to spend more time in the public system, instead <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1753-6405.12488">favouring working</a> in private hospitals</p> </li> <li> <p>there’s a growing need for public hospital services that may not be available in the private system, such as complex neurosurgery and some forms of cancer treatment.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Why is this important?</h2> <p>Government <a href="https://www.privatehealth.gov.au/health_insurance/surcharges_incentives/index.htm">policies</a> designed to get more of us to buy private health insurance involve a significant sum of public spending.</p> <p>Each year, the Australian government spends about <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/delivering-australias-lowest-private-health-insurance-premium-change-in-21-years#:%7E:text=Home-,Delivering%20Australia's%20lowest%20private%20health%20insurance%20premium%20change%20in%2021,be%202.70%20percent%20in%202022">$A6.7 billion</a> in private health insurance rebates to reduce premiums.</p> <p>In the 2020-21 financial year, Medicare combined with state and territory government expenditure provided almost <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/hospitals/australias-hospitals-at-a-glance/contents/spending-on-hospitals">$6.1 billion</a> to fund services provided in private hospitals.</p> <p> </p> <p>There might be an argument for this public spending if the end result was to substantially take pressure off public hospitals and thereby reduce waiting times for treatment in public hospitals.</p> <p>But the considerable effort it takes to encourage more people to sign up for private health insurance, coupled with the small effect on waiting lists we’ve shown, means this strategy is neither practical nor effective.</p> <p>Given the substantial costs of subsidising private health insurance and private hospitals, public money might be better directed to public hospitals and primary care.</p> <p>In addition, people buying private health insurance can skip the waiting times for elective surgery to receive speedier care. These people are often <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/4682822/wp2023n08.pdf">financially well off</a>, implying unequal access to health care.</p> <h2>What’s next?</h2> <p>The Australian government is currently <a href="https://consultations.health.gov.au/medical-benefits-division/consultation-on-phi-studies/">reviewing</a> private health insurance.</p> <p>So now is a good time for reforms to optimise the overall efficiency of the health-care system (both public and private) and improve population health while saving taxpayer money. We also need policies to ensure equitable access to care as a priority.</p> <p>When it comes to reducing hospital waiting lists, we’ve shown we cannot rely on increased rates of private health insurance coverage to do the heavy lifting.<!-- 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/211680/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/yuting-zhang-1144393">Yuting Zhang</a>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jongsay-yong-10803">Jongsay Yong</a>, Associate Professor of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ou-yang-937801">Ou Yang</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></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/does-private-health-insurance-cut-public-hospital-waiting-lists-we-found-it-barely-makes-a-dent-211680">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Touching update on death cap mushroom victims

<p>A public memorial will be held for Don and Gail Patterson after an outpouring of support from the local community. </p> <p>The couple died on July 29 after having lunch that was cooked by their former daughter-in-law, Erin Patterson, which was presumed to have contained death cap mushrooms. </p> <p>Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson  also passed away after having the meal, and her husband Ian remains in hospital in a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/update-from-survivor-of-deadly-mushroom-meal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critical but stable condition. </a></p> <p>The Patterson family released a statement on Tuesday announcing the public memorial service and have invited members of the community to attend, according to the <em>South Gippsland Sentinel Times.</em></p> <p>“The family of Don and Gail Patterson wishes to extend an invitation to the community for a public memorial service to celebrate and remember the lives of Don and Gail,” the statement read. </p> <p>“Both were cherished members of the community, known for their humility and the positive impact they had on those around them.</p> <p>“The Patterson family has expressed their deep gratitude for the outpouring of love, support, and understanding during this challenging time.</p> <p>“They have been touched by the many memories and stories shared by friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who were touched by Don and Gail's kindness and generosity," they added. </p> <p>A private funeral was held earlier in the week to allow the family to grieve and put the victims to rest, but now the family wanted to give the public a chance to pay tribute to the couple.</p> <p>“In keeping with Don and Gail's wishes and character, the family has chosen to commemorate their lives in a manner that reflects their values and the love they shared with their community.</p> <p>“A private burial was held earlier this week, attended by close family members.</p> <p>“The upcoming public memorial will be an opportunity for all who knew Don and Gail to come together, share memories, and celebrate the lasting legacy they have left behind," the statement concluded.  </p> <p>Victoria Police continue to investigate the deaths, but have not laid any charges. </p> <p>Erin Patterson has <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/details-of-erin-patterson-s-police-statement-around-fatal-mushroom-meal-revealed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">spoken up about  the tragic incident </a>and continues to assist the police in their investigation. </p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, Rubik, 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: News.com.au</em></p>

Caring

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First state to lock in Matilda's public holiday promise

<p>New South Wales premier Chris Minns has backed Anthony Albanese's proposal to implement a public holiday if The Matildas win the FIFA Women's World Cup.</p> <p>The Prime Minister flagged the idea of a public holiday if the Australian women's team claim the victory, however, the actual decision for the day off will come down to each individual state. </p> <p>NSW Premier Chris Minns has thrown his support behind the idea, and has even put forward the idea of a "ticker tape parade" through the Sydney CBD.</p> <p>"If the Matildas win the semi-final and then win the World Cup final, then yes we will pursue a public holiday in NSW, not just to celebrate the victory but also to have a massive civic celebration and allow the Matildas to celebrate with the people of Sydney what will be an amazing, like, life-changing and unbelievable event in the state's history," Minns told 2GB's Ben Fordham on Monday morning.</p> <p>He said the government was currently working on "contingency plans" in the event of the Matilda's victory.</p> <p>Minns went on to say that any celebrations would happen the week of the winning game, and not the Monday after. </p> <p>Despite the surge of support for the Matildas throughout the tournament, some businesses have opposed the idea of a public holiday, saying they can't afford the expense. </p> <p>"If we did do it in Sydney for a big public holiday, and a massive ticker tape parade, can you imagine the kind of energy and economic excitement," Minns said.</p> <p>The Matildas will be taking on England in the semi-final game on Wednesday night, with the winner going into the final against either Spain or Sweden. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

News

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Australia’s richest schools revealed

<p dir="ltr">Funding in education is a divisive topic at the best of times, but with new data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s MySchool, the divide between public and private school has never been more apparent. </p> <p dir="ltr">With five years’ worth of financial data at its disposal, <em>news.com.au </em>ranked Australia’s schools by wealth in each state, and by combining each institution’s gross income across its fees, its government funding, and the likes of donation income.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the study, the top five wealthiest schools in New South Wales were - from first to fifth - Wahroonga’s Knox Grammar School, Darlinghurst’s Sydney Grammar School, Hornsby’s Barker College, Bellevue Hill’s The Scots College, and Pymble’s Pymble Ladies’ College.</p> <p dir="ltr">The results also revealed that New South Wales’ wealthiest school - Knox Grammar School - has gained more money through fees, funding, and donations over the course of five years than the total economic output of five of Australia’s Pacific island neighbours.</p> <p dir="ltr">Non-government schools account for 56 of the state’s richest, with Cherrybrook Technology High School - a secondary school in northwest Sydney - the highest-earning public school. </p> <p dir="ltr">Victoria’s top five were Keysborough’s Haileybury College, Melbourne’s Wesley College, St Kilda East’s Caulfield Grammar School, Kew’s Carey Baptist Grammar School, and Ivanhoe’s Ivanhoe Grammar School. </p> <p dir="ltr">And Victoria’s richest - Haileybury College - has more money than the bottom 300 schools combined, according to new data, with a staggering five-year income of $677m.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, it has also been reported that many Victorian state schools receive more per student from the government than the top private schools. </p> <p dir="ltr">Similar to Victoria, Queensland’s top five made more money over a five year period than the bottom 300, prompting renewed calls for the state and federal governments to negotiate on school funding.</p> <p dir="ltr">And those top five were Brisbane’s Brisbane Grammar School, East Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School, Indooroopilly’s St Peters Lutheran College, Reedy Creek’s King’s Christian College, and Brisbane’s Brisbane Girls Grammar School.</p> <p dir="ltr">South Australia’s top five were St Peters’ St Peters’ College, Somerton Park’s Sacred Heart College, Marion’s Westminster School, Findon’s Nazareth Catholic College, and Kent Town’s Prince Alfred College. </p> <p dir="ltr">The findings revealed that some of the inner-city colleges were bringing in up to 100 times more than their country school counterparts, and that St Peter’s College could boast a five-year gross income of almost a quarter of a billion dollars.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, at small town Port Neill Primary School on the Eyre Peninsula, the gross income for the same period came in at just over $2.5m.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tasmania’s top five were North Hobart’s The Friends’ School, Prospect Vale’s St Patrick’s College, Newstead’s Scotch Oakburn College, Sandy Bay’s The Hutchins School, and Launceston’s Launceston College. </p> <p dir="ltr">And Tasmania’s richest, The Friends’ School, was revealed to be raking in over $158.3m over five years, with an astounding average cost per student of $29,070.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Northern Territory’s top five wealthiest schools were The Garden’s Darwin High School, Humpty Doo’s Taminmin College, Howard Springs’ Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Wadeye’s Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic College, and Rapid Creek’s The Essington School. </p> <p dir="ltr">Darwin High School had a gross income of $118.1m, while the region’s second wealthiest - Taminmin College - had one just shy of the former’s at $118m. However, Tipperary Station School had the lowest gross income of any of the territory’s schools, bringing in just $2.1m.</p> <p dir="ltr">Western Australia’s top five were Claremont’s Christ Church Grammar School, Wembley Downs’ Hale School, Swanbourne’s Scotch College, Karrinyup’s St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School, and Duncraig’s St Stephen’s School. </p> <p dir="ltr">And last but not least, the Australian Capital Territory’s five richest schools were Red Hill’s Canberra Grammar School, Bruce’s Radford College, Deakin’s Canberra Girls Grammar School, Isabella Plains’ St Mary MacKillop College, and Pearce’s Marist College Canberra. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Matildas bet on Albo’s public holiday promise

<p dir="ltr">When Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese first floated the idea of a public holiday for soccer success with the Socceroos and the Men’s World Cup, fans all over were eager for the chance to celebrate. </p> <p dir="ltr">And now, with the Women’s World Cup approaching, all eyes have turned to the Matildas as they strive for victory, with some asking if the public holiday promise extends to the nation’s beloved women’s team, too. </p> <p dir="ltr">And while speaking to <em>The Daily Aus</em>, Albanese had the answer that many were hoping for. However, the promise came with just one major condition - the Matildas had to secure victory.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s up to each state and territory to designate public holidays,” he said. “But rest assured - should the Matildas win the World Cup on home soil, I reckon there will be a race by Premiers to declare a public holiday.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And the Matildas were quick to prove themselves up to the challenge, responding to a social media recap on the situation to write “Bet”, along with a handshake emoji. </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/p/CtdjeCDLo7h/?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/CtdjeCDLo7h/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by The Daily Aus (TDA) (@thedailyaus)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Passionate supporters - of both soccer and a day off - were thrilled to see it, with many agreeing that the Matildas were in with a real shot at the trophy, and as a result, the nation with the promised holiday. </p> <p dir="ltr">“When he said that he knew there was no way the men’s team would win in a million years,” one user wrote. “The women’s team however have one of the best chances of winning…suck it up boys!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another agreed, writing that the Matildas “have more of a chance of winning too let’s face it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Give us a public holiday!” another chimed in. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, some had their concerns, mostly when it came to the hospitality and small business workers who wouldn’t reap the same rewards from the day. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I want them to win as much as anyone but as a business with 100 clients another public holiday for them to pay to their staff will hurt.....super is rising, awards are rising,” one said. “Give small businesses a break they employ the most people yet are forgotten!!!”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Too many PH already,” another complained. “Full time hospitality workers need a life too.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And for one user, it was a mixed affair, as they shared that “he possibly said it as the men’s team had no chance, but the Matilda’s!!! Yes! Although rather see Melbs Cup dropped in Vic &amp; we pick up a day dedicated to celebrate our Indigenous people &amp; history.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

News

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“It’s the court of public opinion”: Sarah Ferguson condemns Phillip Schofield backlash

<p dir="ltr">Sarah Ferguson has spoken out against the wave of judgement directed at former This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield and the relationship scandal that swept the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 63-year-old Duchess of York was chatting to businesswoman Sarah Jane Thomson on her podcast, <em>Tea Talks</em>, when conversation turned to Schofield, and his controversial affair with a man - and co-worker - 30 years younger than him. </p> <p dir="ltr">When news of the affair broke, Schofield stepped down from his 20 year position as the face of This Morning. He later confessed to the Daily Mail that he had lied about the relationship, and <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/i-will-die-sorry-phillip-schofield-breaks-his-silence-on-his-career-ending-affair">informed <em>The Sun </em>that he was “not a groomer”</a>, despite public opinion.</p> <p dir="ltr">Criticism for the disgraced host flooded social media in the wake of the whole ordeal, with the story and its related rumours splashed across publications worldwide, and it was the backlash that Ferguson wanted to address, namely the idea of ‘cancel culture’ at the centre of it all. </p> <p dir="ltr">Thomson prompted the discussion by comparing social media’s take to a “huge game of Chinese whispers”, to which Ferguson responded that “it’s like the court of public opinion.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“And then [that can lead to] massive bullying to the point of extermination of a soul,” she added. “I don’t believe that anybody has that right to judge and exterminate a person’s own beliefs.”</p> <p dir="ltr">From there, Ferguson encouraged listeners not to leap to assumptions, as “we all have failings”. She asked that everyone instead take a moment “or make a cup of tea before you judge another human being without knowing all the facts”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We don’t know the facts,” she pointed out. “We certainly don’t know what people get up to.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Thomson had her own thoughts to share on the matter, noting that “the problem is, when you’re in the public eye, any failing you make is there to be talked about, and the rest of us don’t have that. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We don't have that deep examining of where we've gone wrong, and then it's reflected over and over and over.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And while the two had made their point, Ferguson took a moment to discuss a - in her opinion “spot on” - article by Jeremy Clarkson for the<em> Sunday Times</em>, in which he wrote about the public’s race to condemn Schofield.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ve never seen a witch-hunt like it,” he said, “and what baffles me most of all is that, as things stand, no crime has been committed. I don’t know him at all well and have no skin in the game, but it seems to me he is only guilty of being what he said he was: gay.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the article, Clarkson went on to note that the age gap between Schofield and his partner in the affair was receiving a different degree of attention to heterosexual stars in similar relationship situations - from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, who frequently dates women significantly younger than himself, and Al Pacino’s 54-year age gap with his pregnant partner.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Phil is no longer the genial host of some morning-time televisual cappuccino froth,” Clarkson surmised. “According to the people's court of social media, he's like his brother, a nonce.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Relationships

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Biggest change to public holiday in 70 years

<p> 2023 is marking history as the Queen’s Birthday public holiday will now be recognised as the King’s Birthday – a change not seen in 70 years – and one that will likely remain for at least the next two generations of monarchs.</p> <p>The name change follows the ascension of King Charles III to the throne after the death of Australia’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.</p> <p>Despite the King’s birthday being November 14, most Aussie states celebrate the monarch’s birthday as a public holiday on the second Monday of June, in line with British celebrations.</p> <p>The King’s birthday will be observed on June 12 in South Australia, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern territory.</p> <p>For Queenslanders, the public holiday falls on the first Monday of October, which in 2023 will be October 2.</p> <p>As Western Australia celebrates Western Australia Day on the first Monday of June, it will observe the King’s birthday in September in an effort to spread out its public holidays.</p> <p>For WA, it will fall on Monday, September 25.</p> <p>Aside from a legislative amendment made to the states’ respective Public Holiday Acts to change the name, the day will remain the same in practice.</p> <p>Most Australians have only ever known the public holiday as the Queen’s Birthday, with Queen Elizabeth II reigning as monarch for 70 years, taking the throne in 1952 at just 25.</p> <p>Charles, however, became the oldest monarch to take the British throne at 73.</p> <p>The tradition of celebrating the sovereign’s birthday in June began with George II in 1748. He deemed November, his actual birth month, was too cold for a celebratory parade.</p> <p>During the reign of Edward, VII, also born in November, the standardisation of official summer birthdays was implemented.</p> <p>Compared to other public holidays such as Good Friday and Boxing Day, most businesses will remain open, although some with reduced trading hours.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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“It's like they hate customers”: Restaurant surcharge ignites the internet

<p>It’s a common experience to look at a restaurant’s menu and find hidden charges laying in the fine print - from service fees to split bill and public holiday costs, it can feel like surcharges are everywhere.</p> <p>And while it’s legal for such establishments to expect as much from their customers, particularly when it comes to public holidays, one particular cafe has ignited a debate over what’s actually reasonable when it comes to such surcharges. </p> <p>An exasperated customer launched the conversation when they <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/brisbane/comments/134a652/how_much_is_too_much_for_a_public_holiday/?utm_source=share&amp;utm_medium=web3x&amp;utm_name=web3xcss&amp;utm_term=1&amp;utm_content=share_button" target="_blank" rel="noopener">posted to Reddit</a>, sharing an image of a menu they’d encountered while dining out in Brisbane, and the 25 per cent surcharge attached to it.</p> <p>“How much is too much for a public holiday surcharge?” they asked, before expanding with “what’s a fair go surcharge for a struggling business owner these days?”</p> <p>The comments flooded in from there, and one thing became clear: 25 per cent was well above what many were willing to pay, unless they could guarantee the extra fees were going directly into the wallets of the staff.</p> <p>One got right to the point when they declared, “25% = I eat elsewhere.”</p> <p>“I can understand [a] public holiday surcharge for 10% or 15%,” another said, “but isn't [it] that [being] open on public holidays often attracts much more business than usual, giving the restaurant an advantage such as higher cash flow?”</p> <p>“10% is fair, 25% is robbery,” one agreed. </p> <p>However, not all were of the opinion that walking away from such a cost was the only option, instead noting that “if I go out on a public holiday I am prepared for it to be exxy, I wouldn't have an issue with 25%.”</p> <p>And for some, the public holiday fee wasn’t the issue. Their problem? The extra 7% just to split a bill. </p> <p>“Even if I'm not split billing, f**k any place that charges extra for split billing, ESPECIALLY 7%,” one complained. “JFC, how are people not more upset about that part?”</p> <p>“25% is outrageous, as is 7% for splitting bills. It's like they hate customers,” said one. </p> <p>Another had a few questions about it, writing “that's higher than normal, but why is there a 7% surcharge for splitting the bill? It takes like an extra 30 seconds tops.”</p> <p>“Because people want it, and if they want anything you find a way to charge for it, even if it costs literally nothing,” came the reply. “Gotta get that hustle … Then they wonder why no-one comes back.”</p> <p>Unfortunately for the Redditors, restaurants and cafes in Australia have the freedom to set whatever surcharges they see fit as long as they don’t try to hide them on their menus. </p> <p>As the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has declared, “restaurants, cafes and bistros that charge a surcharge on certain days do not need to provide a separate menu or price list or have a separate price column with the surcharge factored in.</p> <p>“However, the menu must include the words ‘a surcharge of [percentage] applies on [the specified day or days]’ and these words must be displayed at least as prominently as the most prominent price on the menu. </p> <p>“If the menu does not have prices listed, these words must be displayed in a way that is conspicuous and visible to a reader. These measures apply to pricing for both food and beverages.”</p> <p><em>Images: Reddit</em></p>

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The public history, climate change present, and possible future of Australia’s botanic gardens

<p>Can we justify maintaining water-hungry botanic gardens in an age of climate change and rising water prices?</p> <p>Perhaps such gardens are no longer suited to Australia’s changing climate – if they ever were.</p> <p>It is easy to argue Australian botanic gardens are imperial remnants full of European plants, an increasingly uncomfortable reminder of British colonisation. </p> <p>But gardens, and their gardeners, aren’t static. They are intrinsically changing entities. </p> <h2>A brief history</h2> <p>Most Australian botanic gardens were established in the 19th century, starting with the garden in the Sydney Domain around 1816.</p> <p>The earliest gardens served multiple functions. </p> <p>They were food gardens. They were test gardens used to establish the suitability of crops and vegetables introduced from Europe and other colonies.</p> <p>Nostalgia, European ideas of beauty and the desire to test introduced varieties meant botanic gardens were planted with trees familiar to British visitors. Oaks, elms and conifers were all planted, along with the kinds of flowers and shrubs naturalised in British private and public gardens. </p> <p>Introduced plants and trees were distributed to settlers as part of acclimatisation – the introduction of exotic plants intended to transform the Australian landscape to a more familiar one and make it “productive”. </p> <p>Botanic gardens also reversed this exchange by collecting, cultivating and internationally distributing Australian native plants deemed potentially useful or beautiful.</p> <p>Finally, and <a href="https://www.mup.com.au/books/reading-the-garden-paperback-softback">most controversially</a>, they were public spaces. </p> <p>Australian public gardens drew on <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/1587004">then new ideas</a> from European social reformers and progressive politicians. These gardens were seen as providing healthy air for the citizens of increasingly crowded cities. They were also built on older ideas about commons and provision of shared public space for the recreation of the poorer classes.</p> <p>These different uses sometimes clashed. Ferdinand Mueller, director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, was <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/INFORMIT.614393203501639">arguably displaced</a> from his role because his vision of the garden was as an instructional botanical nursery. Public demand had shifted to a desire for a more aesthetic and usable garden. </p> <h2>Facing the climate emergency</h2> <p>Water for trees and decorative plants drawn from very different climates were always an issue for these gardens. </p> <p>As early as 1885, Richard Schomburgk in his role of director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/034558a0">told Nature</a> about the drought affecting that city and the drastic impact it was having “upon many of the trees and shrubs in the Botanic Garden, natives of cooler countries”.</p> <p>As the climate has shifted, droughts, changes in water table and climate change uncertainty have foregrounded the plight of these thirsty trees, and <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/from-small-acorns-botanic-gardens-looks-to-climate-proof-its-future-20220922-p5bk47.html">some have died</a>. </p> <p>The Geelong Botanic Gardens, established in 1851, <a href="https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/gbg/about/water/article/item/8cbf37aecae738a.aspx">provide an example</a> of water demand and the work done to retain historic trees, using wastewater to maintain these plantings. The garden also now has a “21st-Century Garden” focused on sustainability, containing hardy natives including <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia">acacias</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eremophila_(plant)">eremophila</a>, saltbush and grasses.</p> <p>Today’s botanic gardens are still test gardens, and are now <a href="https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ppp3.10356">important sites</a> for global climate change research. They demonstrate what not to plant, but also that not all introduced plants are unsuited to Australian conditions. </p> <p>Adelaide Botanic Gardens offer a <a href="https://plantselector.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/home.aspx">plant selection guide</a> where residents can check whether a plant is suited to their local conditions.</p> <p>The Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens have a <a href="https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/melbourne-gardens/discover-melbourne-gardens/melbourne-gardens-living-collections/climate-ready-rose-collection/">“climate ready” rose display</a>, a reframing of the decimated species rose collection, which adjusts exotic planting to climate change, without throwing the baby out with the (diminishing) bath water.</p> <p>Some European, Mediterranean, North and South American plants are exactly suited to Australian climates, or are robust enough to adapt to changes which include increased drying and heat in many areas, but also the possibility of increased humidity in formerly arid zones. </p> <h2>Colonial memorials</h2> <p>There has been a <a href="https://australian.museum/learn/first-nations/statues/">recent trend</a> to erase reminders of our colonial past. </p> <p>Do the best lessons come from removing colonial memorials, or from rewriting their meaning? Pull out the giant trees and exotic gardens, or use them to demonstrate and examine the assumptions and mistakes of the past, as well as to design the future? </p> <p>Various garden exhibitions, such as the touring <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/culture/art-and-design/digging-deep-into-the-politics-of-gardens-20210217-p573co.html">Garden Variety photography exhibition</a>, do the latter, foregrounding the problematic history as well as the future possibilities of the space. </p> <p>Many gardens also now include <a href="https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/learn/secondary-excursions/connecting-to-country/">Indigenous acknowledgement and content</a>: heritage walks, tours, and talks by Indigenous owners to demonstrate the long history, naming and uses of local plants which overturn their colonial positioning. </p> <h2>Shifting landscapes</h2> <p>Australia’s botanic gardens have changed a lot over the past 200 years.</p> <p>Botanic gardens <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468265917300288">are adapting</a> to climate change, replacing dying and stressed trees and outdated gardens with hardier varieties and new possibilities, conserving endangered species and acting as proving grounds for climate impacts.</p> <p>For decades, state and national gardens like the <a href="https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park/area/wa-botanic-garden">Western Australian Botanic Garden</a> and regional gardens like Mildura’s <a href="https://aibgdotlive.wordpress.com/">Inland Botanic Gardens</a> have installed indigenous, native or climate-focused gardens, as well as or instead of the traditional heritage European style.</p> <p>Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand offers a landscape <a href="https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/initiatives/climate-change-alliance/landscape-succession-toolkit/">succession toolkit</a>: a guide for mapping out what is doomed, what most needs preserving and what adaptations are most pertinent for our botanic gardens of the future. </p> <p>Finally, we don’t need to rip out non-hardy introduced trees: climate change will progressively remove them for us.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-public-history-climate-change-present-and-possible-future-of-australias-botanic-gardens-198864" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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