Advice not sought on Israel embassy shift

Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided to announce a major potential pivot in Middle East policy without taking the idea to cabinet or seeking advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
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Mr Morrison also made the swift decision to consider shifting the n embassy in Israel to Jerusalem without consulting Defence or his own Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The unusual chain of events has been laid bare during several days of Senate estimates hearings.

Mr Morrison also confirmed was reconsidering its support for the Iran nuclear deal.

The announcement came days before a crucial by-election in the Sydney seat of Wentworth, where about 12.5 per cent of voters are Jewish.

More than a week on, the prime minister is refusing to back down, arguing his government was merely considering the politically-charged issues.

“I don’t resile from that,” Mr Morrison told parliament on Thursday.

He first flagged the planned announcement with Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne over the phone on Sunday October 14, less than 48 hours before going public.

The government’s leadership team agreed to his plan the following morning and it was then run past cabinet colleagues.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was not consulted about the policy shifts, and did not provide a brief to government.

Frances Adamson, who heads the department, first learned of the planned announcement on the afternoon before it was made.

She immediately called together the department’s Middle East branch, which swiftly swung into action.

Her staff provided advice to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and prepared a list of countries to be briefed.

Senior bureaucrats then hit the phones, calling between 10 and 20 countries to inform them of the pending announcement.

Officials from Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim nation and a crucial trading partner – were briefed in Canberra and Jakarta last Monday night.

A late-night string of angry text messages from the Indonesian foreign minister to Senator Payne was the first direct contact between the two over the controversial announcement.

‘s most senior military commanders were not told of the major Middle East policy shifts until after the media was briefed.

Defence Chief Angus Campbell concedes he would have preferred it were the other way round.

Senior Defence officials learned about the planned announcement last Monday afternoon, but operational commanders in the field were not informed until the following day, after the proposal was front page news.

On Thursday, Senator Payne repeatedly insisted the announcements on Israel and Iran were not changes in policy.

“I reject the assertion it is a change of policy – it is a review,” she told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.

Cut Cat Menzel on five AFL clubs’ radar

Daniel Menzel is reportedly being considered by five AFL clubs since being delisted by Geelong.Delisted Geelong small forward Daniel Menzel is on the radar of up to five AFL clubs, according to his agent.
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Menzel’s manager Adam Ramanauskas says there remains interest in the goal-sneak after reports AFL cellar-dwellers Carlton, Brisbane and St Kilda have ruled themselves out as potential suitors.

Despite concerns over Menzel’s ability to apply defensive pressure, Ramanauskas was surprised the Cats decided not to retain him as part of their 42-man list for next season.

But the former Essendon winger admitted he’d seen the “writing on the wall” weeks ago during discussions with Geelong about his client.

“I’ve had some good conversations with clubs for the last eight weeks about Dan and how that could potentially look,” Ramanauskas told RSN.

“There’s still discussions with probably five clubs at the moment.”

The Cats cut the 27-year-old – along with speedy midfielder Jordan Murdoch – after 73 games, 136 goals and four knee reconstructions since making his debut in 2010.

St Kilda was circling the out-of-contract forward ahead of the AFL trade period before withdrawing their interest.

“There was a lot of hope that he was going to go to St Kilda as a free agent and then circumstances changed. St Kilda’s direction changed,” Ramanauskas said.

After a booting 15 goals in his opening five games, Menzel’s season hit a snag when a groin injection went awry and he didn’t appear again for Geelong until round 17.

“He was coming second after round five in Geelong’s best and fairest,” Ramanauskas said.

“That was when he was fully fit. He has an injection after round five. We all know what went wrong from there.

“He was playing catch-up for the rest of the year and he just couldn’t get to the level to compete that he wanted to.”

But Ramanauskas moved to assuage any clubs’ fears about his fitness for 2019.

“His knee’s absolutely fine,” he said.

“The groin issue that he had this year is now completely fine. If you go back and look at the early part of the season, that’s the level of output you’re going to get from a fit Daniel Menzel.”

What you don’t see is sometimes what you get when booking stuff online, writes Simon Walker

PRESSING YOUR BUTTONS: Satisfaction is just a fingertip away in the modern world of algorithmic wish fulfillment.The modern artform of booking stuff online comes with its ups and downs.
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Particularly now as we become beholden to the mighty algorithms which sense our desiresand manage our search results accordingly.

How many of us, for example,are familiar with the price range of airplane tickets narrowing the more we search for the same thing.

How the number of seats on a particular plane on a particular day to a particular place seemto decline at an anxiety-inducing rate the longer we search online, and not incognito, herding us towards a purchase.

And then how our Facebook feedsbecome peppered with new offerings next dayfrom similar travel vendors to almost exactly the same locations for prices that didn’t seem there the day before, under a different Google sign-in.

Big data has us by the short and curlies and by lord, something’s starting to shake.

The other day, for us, it was our resolve, as we sort to book accommodation for a sombre event that required some urgent mobilisation. It had to be done online because, lord knows, or maybe it was the algorithm (same thing really), you can’t talk to anyone in person these days.

Notthe real estate agent we were trying tobook through anyhow. They kept pointing us to the website as we spoke to them by phone. And when that failed, they started emailing screen shots of the websiteshowing availability of properties, even though they knew where we wanted to stay and the availability, because we were talking to them directly, by phone. Old school.

But therein lay the next fascinating level of booking accommodation these days –themodern trend of,wherever possible, not talking to you. Probably because then they might have to tell you stuff.

That was Friday. So we went online and did the business and then sent the person an email Saturday. And that’s when they told usby email thatthe accommodation we’d booked –on the riverwith a peaceful and serene view–had scaffolding out the front which would remain there for the duration of our stay. It didn’t seem so peaceful and serene anymore.

So we rangto expressWFT which was futile on two levels: one,they only do stuff online; and two,thereal estate agent was closed Saturday and Sunday.

Now I mentioned a sombre event earlier, but it hadn’t supposed to be booking accommodation. It was about booking accommodation for a funeral. And we needed it in place now, not Monday.

But here we still had Saturday and Sunday to angst out, with no word from our real estate agentbecause they were offline, as theyexplainedby email, on Saturday.

So we went back online and hustlednew accommodation banking ona refundlater, with no guarantee at that stage, andwere successful, although thealgorithm had us on the edge second time around too because it already knew we werelooking.

Talk about getting buried in unnecessary detail.

SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive

Newcastle doctors call for children in detention on Nauru to be brought to China due to serious concerns for their health and welfare

Urgent: GP registrar Kathleen Wild, paediatrician Sarahn Lovett, anaesthetist Melissa Judd, geriatrician Sudeshi Wijethilaka and emergency registrar Thomas Yu in Newcastle say the children in detention on Nauru are facing an urgent health crisis. Picture: Simone De PeakNEWCASTLE doctors have added their voices to acampaign to have children in detention urgently brought to in light ofthe“health crisis” on Nauru.
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About 6000 doctors across have signed a letter demandingthe government bring the 50 remaining children on Nauru to due to serious concerns for their health, safety and well-being.

“I amone of the many doctors across and Newcastle who have been horrified and appalled by the health emergency that is occurring in Nauru,”Kathleen Wild, a GP registrar, said.

“This is a health crisis.

“There are some very ill children –and adults, but especially children –at imminent risk of serious harm or death if there is not urgent action taken on the behalf of the n government to bring them to safety.

“There are still 50 children remaining on Nauru, and one-in-fourof them are suicidal, or have attempted suicide.”

Bring them here: Newcastle doctors are calling on the n Government to bring children in detention on Nauru to due to serious concerns for their health, safety and welfare. Picture: Simone De Peak

Dr Wild said the children in detention had lost all hope for their future.

Some had not eaten for weeks.

Related: Medical issues on Nauru unprecedented

“This is an entirely man-made emergency that we have created for these children,” she said. “These children urgently and immediately need to be taken from Nauru to , because that is the only place their health needs can be met –they cannot be cared for appropriately on Nauru with the facilities there.

“In Newcastle, all the doctors here –all the doctors I’ve ever met–got into this industry to help people, and care for people that are critically ill. And these are children that need our care.”

Related: No timeline for getting kids off Nauru

Dr Wild wanted the local community to mobilise and let their local government representatives know the situation is unacceptable.

“Enough is enough. This is all being carried out in our name, with our tax payer dollars, and we are not happy that children are being put at this risk on our behalf,” she said.

Newcastle GP Melissa Collogan said not providing these children with adequate medical and psychological care was an abuse of basic human rights –“One which we will have to answer for if we don’t do something about it.”

Related: Serious risk of death on Nauru

Paediatrician Sarahn Lovett said these children in detention were our responsibility whilein care under n law.

“We aregoing to have to say ‘sorry’ to this generation of refugees for how we are treating them now,” she said.

“Our government seems to be very good at saying ‘sorry’. But whynot be proactive to help these people, rather than create another inter-generational disaster?

“We need to bring them here. And we need to bring them here as soon as we can.”

Surgeon ‘made me do it’: Vic punch accused

An accused killer cried out “he made me do it” as a Melbourne surgeon fell to the ground unconscious after an alleged one-punch attack at the hospital where he worked, a jury has heard.
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Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, suffered head injuries last May when he fell at Box Hill Hospital after allegedly being struck to the head by 24-year-old Joseph Esmaili.

The surgeon’s life support was turned off weeks later.

Esmaili is on trial in the Supreme Court, having pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

Despite recanting his early claim he saw the doctor get punched and fall, Esmaili’s friend Corey Rogers told the court he witnessed Esmaili’s response.

“Oh f***. He made me do it,” he said Esmaili had yelled out, before jogging outside the hospital and running with his group toward Box Hill.

Esmaili and Mr Rogers were smoking with a group of people in a non-smoking area outside the hospital when it’s alleged Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann told them they couldn’t smoke there.

Mr Rogers said one of the group told the doctor to “f*** off” and Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann went inside to get security, following Esmaili.

Receptionist Megan Brodersen said the pair were arguing while she called security for help.

She said she heard Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann tell Esmaili “you can’t talk to me like that” and repeatedly asking, “did you just spit on me?”.

Mr Rogers said at one point the doctor put down his bag and there was a physical interaction.

“There was a push. The doctor pushed Joe. He reacted by punching (Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann),” he said.

Administration worker Lucy Jackson said she saw the punch reflected through a window, but under cross-examination by Esmaili’s barrister John Desmond, admitted she didn’t see Esmaili’s fist connect.

Ms Brodersen said she didn’t see the punch but heard a bang and raced over to find Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann unconscious and choking.

Also a trained nurse, she put him in the recovery position.

“He was very stiff, kind of convulsing. I put him in the recovery position and that’s when the blood came out of his nose and mouth” she said.

“It felt like forever but (help) came very quickly.”

The trial continues.