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Q&A recap: Tony Jones brings back program’s controversial past with simple question

Q&A host Tony Jones ramped up the debate on freedom of speech on Monday night’s program. Photo: ABC Steve Ciobo found himself in the Q&A hot seat again. Photo: ABC

Canadian author and human rights activist Mark Steyn spoke against government regulation that impedes free speech on Q&A. Photo: ABC

Q&A host Tony Jones encouraged a spirited discussion on freedom of speech on Monday night’s program. Photo: ABC

Somewhere, Zaky Mallah’s ears were burning.

“Should people in a forum like this be able to say whatever they think?” inquired Q&A host Tony Jones during Monday night’s program.

The question seemed innocuous enough but in this instance came with an added frisson of anticipation. He was throwing it to the man on his right, a man who was sitting in the exact same spot when he last appeared on this program. On that occasion, Steve Ciobo – a government minister then toiling in the troubled ranks of Tony Abbott – found himself front and centre as the proverbial hit the fan, splattering everyone in sight, setting off a freedom-of-speech debate that ran for months and landing Q&A in the biggest crisis of its eight years on the air.

We are all older and wiser now, and Zaky Mallah – the one-time terrorism suspect whose fiery clash with Ciobo prompted that conflagration – will likely never darken the door of the Q&A studio again. As for Ciobo, he was back – now a happy warrior for Malcolm Turnbull and happy to hold forth, though perhaps hoping no one would mention his government’s efforts to cow Q&A into silent submission just seven months ago.

Fortunately Jones couldn’t resist, if only in passing, but Ciobo wasn’t biting.

“I’m attracted to the classic liberal freedoms as a starting point but it doesn’t apply carte blanche,” he began.

Jones: “Didn’t apply to Zaky Mallah, for example.”

Ciobo waved the interjection away, as he did sniping from other members of the panel. “I am attracted to the principle but there does need to be limits on it. I think that’s a reasonable position.”

The Mallah matter might have taken this discussion down an interesting path – for example, would the storm that engulfed Q&A under PM Abbott have happened under PM Turnbull – but neither Ciobo nor Jones seemed to have the heart to go there, perhaps wisely in both cases. On a hiding to nothing, the discussion moved on – from freedom of speech to freedom of drinking, otherwise known as the lockout laws currently roiling politics in NSW.

Questioner Margot Davis, lamenting the rise of the nanny state, wanted to know of the panel: “What are you going to do to stem what’s quickly becoming an insult to the vast majority of Australians who are intelligent, progressive and responsible members of our country before it ends in civil unrest and a fight for our independence?”

Steve Ciobo, a Queenslander, thought the NSW laws went too far.

“I know here in NSW it’s currently in place and the Premier Mike Baird has said assaults are down 44 per cent. How does that sit with the way in which patronage is down? I heard someone quip there were zero assaults in the Simpson Desert, too.”

Fellow Queenslander Terri Butler, the Labor MP on the panel, saw the argument in favour – including their proposed adoption on her home state. But it fell to visiting Canadian Mark Steyn – a renowned conservative commentator based in the US – to offer the most provocative if mostly sensible perspective: give a government a centimetre and it will take a kilometre. Or as he put, in assessing government regulation of our lives:

“If the state treats you like a child in every other area of life, then it can’t let you stay out drinking until four in the morning.

“It’s different for me to watch grown men wearing a helmet to ride a bicycle around a Sydney park,” said Steyn, who lives in New Hampshire – state motto, “Live Free Or Die”.

“It is a different way of looking at things. I think if you look to the government to insulate you against risk in that way, like riding a bicycle round a park on a Sunday afternoon, it’s very difficult to argue that untrammelled access to liquor until four in the morning should be an exception to that.”

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Advocating for western Sydney since 1973

Councillor Tony Hadchiti is the president of Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) and a member of Liverpool City Council. Picture: Simon Bennett

Councilsdo more than just emptygarbage binsandrun the local library.

Witha fingerfirmlyon the pulse of local issues,councilsare key toensuringcommunity needs are metat thestate and federal level.

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) is a platform through which10 western Sydney councilscome together todiscusskeyregional issues.

WSROChas successfullyadvocatedfor western Sydneyresidentsfor more than40 years.

From its1970s ‘‘Beds for the West’’ campaign,tothe1980s pushfora University of Western Sydney.

In the ‘90s WSROC was integralto installing aMinister for Western Sydney,andin the 2000slobbiedto fast-track theM7.

It has been alongcampaign to get western Sydney on the map,butwe havefinally watcheditrocketonto bothstate and federal agendas.

Unprecedented investmentinthe regionmakes itessential that councilscollaborate in ordertoensureinvestmentis channelled into projects that best serve community needs.

ThePowerhouse Museumrelocation,South West RailandParramatta Light Railhaveallbeen propelled bysolid lobbyingfromWSROC councils.

This just the beginning.

Booming western Sydneyneedsbetter connectionsbetween its emerging growth centres toattract investors, jobs, and make it easier for residentsto move around.

The first step is a raillink to the proposed Badgerys Creek airport site.

A link the NSW governmentis now scoping thanks tounited lobbying frommany western Sydneyvoices.

Butour jobis not finished. We need to ensure the routeschosenarerightfor westernSydney.

Routesthat links our economic hubs, business parks and commuters.Routesthatlessenthe north-south divideand freeuptravelwithin the region.

As president of WSROC, it will be myongoingmission to ensurethese projects are wellplanned and that any future and ongoinginvestment in western Sydney serves to benefitwestern Sydney and all the residents within.

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Prices surge by 20c/kg at Wagga sale

NUMBERS GAME: Big yardings continue to go under the hammer at the Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre. Picture: Nikki ReynoldsPRICES soared by as much as 20c/kg at the Wagga cattle market when 3885 head sold.

The market gained strength due to support from northern buyers.

Yearling cattle benefited from stronger demand from northern buyers over all categories.

The cow market also enjoyed stronger competition from Queensland and northern NSW which pushed up to 10c/kg higher.

The yarding contained mostly yearling cattle more suited to restocking and lot feeding. All major export companies and feedlots were present and active.

The limited supply of vealers sold to stronger bidding from southern domestic processors with veal to slaughter making from 292c to 330c/kg.

Restocker demand had the greatest influence over vealer steers and heifers lacking finish, which pushed both store and feedlot prices up by 10c to 20c/kg. Well-bred secondary vealer steers made from 316c to 378c/kg. Once again there was limited numbers of prime C3 medium weight trade steers purchased by domestic processors. The better shaped steers to slaughter made from 296c to 322c to average 318c/kg.

The lack of quality steers to slaughter meant domestic buyers shifted their attentions to the medium weight heifer portion, which resulted in a dearer trend of 5c to average 291c/kg. Secondary weaner steers to turnout sold to strong northern competition selling at 313c to 341c/kg.

Strong bidding from Queensland and NSW feedlots lifted price by 10c/kg. Medium weight C2 feeder steers average 325c/kg. Lighter weight heifers 330-400kg sold to solid competition from the north making from 290c to 310c/kg.

The mixed quality supply of heavy grown steers sold to solid competition to sell 5c/kg dearer.

Prime C4 Angus bullocks were in high demand and export processors paid up to 313c/kg. The bulk of the bullocks sold from 278c to 311c/kg.

Cow numbers eased and quality was mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Well finished heavy cows sold 6c dearer to average 240c/kg.

The bulk of the better covered lean types sold to robust competition northern export buyers to sell 10c/kg dearer.

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Rivervale rooftop stand-off: knife-wielding man charged with string of offences

30-year-old man in police custody after rooftop stand-off in Rivervale. Photo: FFX A 30-year-old man, wielding a knife in a rooftop stand-off in Rivervale on Monday night, has been charged by police with a string of offences, some dating back five years.

Police were called to a two-storey unit block on Salisbury Road around 8pm after a number reports of a man jumping onto roofs in the area.

Police allege the man had a knife and was refusing to come down.

A police negotiator managed to coax the man down around 12.30am and he was taken into custody without incident.

The 30-year-old homeless man has been charged over a number of alleged crimes related to multiple incidents in Binningup and Capel, in the state’s South West in February 2011.

These include burglary, breach of a violence restraining order, aggravated assault, trespassing and possession of illicit drugs (methamphetamine and cannabis).

He has been refused bail and was due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Follow WAtoday on Twitter*/]]>

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Japan pushes for contract to help Australia build $50-billion submarine fleet

Tokyo: Japan has urged Australia to award a contract to build its new $50-billion submarine fleet, emphasising the strategic imperatives of such a deal as both countries seek closer ties amid growing security tensions in the region.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop received the strategic pitch from her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida during a two-and-half-hour meeting in Tokyo which also canvassed tackling China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, potential sanctions against North Korea, and Australia’s opposition to Japan’s resumption of whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The fleet would not just amount to a transfer of defence technology and capabilities, Japanese officials say, but lead to greater operational cooperation which would help bolster maritime security in the region – a counterweight to China’s efforts to transform its navy into a global maritime power.

The potential co-development of the new submarine fleet, amid the broader deepening of security ties with Japan, is viewed with suspicion by a Chinese government convinced the United States and its allies are intent on containing its rise.

Ms Bishop, speaking to reporters after her meeting with Mr Kishida at the official Iikura Guest House, stressed a decision would only be made after a competitive evaluation process, with the winner announced later this year. France and Germany also remain in the running for the order, which will replace Australia’s diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines.

“I note Japan has emphasised the strategic importance of their bid, but likewise the other two bidders have emphasised what they perceive to be their strengths,” Ms Bishop said on Monday night, the first of a five-day visit to Japan and China.

“What Australia is seeking to do is look at ensuring that the international partner can meet our needs in terms of capability, quality, reach and also the needs of Australian industry.”

Foreshadowing the potentially delicate talks awaiting her next leg in Beijing, Ms Bishop said she discussed with Mr Kishida ways to ensure China embraces the international rules based order “under which so many countries in this region has prospered” when it came to the South China Sea.

China has ignored calls for it to halt its programme of island-building in the South China Sea, which has included the construction of military-grade airstrips and naval berths, citing its right to do so on sovereign territory and that similar reclamation was being carried out by rival claimants Vietnam and the Philippines.

“It’s not a question of Japan wanting us to do more, it’s about what Australia wants to do and Australia has already made it plain that we will continue to advocate for peaceful resolution over the different claims over the South China Sea,” Ms Bishop said.

On North Korea, Ms Bishop said China could use its influence as a key trade partner and energy supplier to curb its neighbour’s behaviour, following separate nuclear and ballistic missile tests in recent weeks.

She said Australia was considering whether to take autonomous sanctions against North Korea, noting Japan this week announced a blanket ban on shipping from the country and barring all North Koreans from entering. South Korea and the United States have also announced its own measures as the United Nations Security Council debates a resolution to impose sanctions.

“The international community must send a strong message” against North Korea, Mr Kishida said at the start of Monday’s meeting, adding that North Korea’s actions pose a “direct and grave” threat to Japan’s national security.

Ms Bishop is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defence Minister Gen Nakatani on Tuesday.

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