Sports Minister under fire over Queensland trip for cage-fighting event

Victorian Sports Minister John Eren Photo: Paul JeffersVictorian Sports Minister John Eren was flown to the Gold Coast to watch cage fighting by the Ultimate Fighting Championship days before he announced Labor would lift a ban on the sport.
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In question time on Thursday, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy asked Mr Eren to confirm that he had announced Labor’s policy to lift a ban on cage fighting in Victoria in 2012, days after he returned from an all-expenses-paid trip to the Gold Coast courtesy of cage-fighting operator UFC.

The register of members’ interests shows Mr Eren accepted a travel contribution and a gift exceeding $500 to travel to a Gold Coast event. While there is no date on the declaration, there was a UFC fight on December 15, 2012, on the Gold Coast.

On December 16, 2012, Mr Eren announced the party would lift the ban.

Labor said it had been working on the policy for months before the announcement, including talking to the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board.

In Parliament, Mr Eren “rejected the premise of the question”.

But in a later statement he said the “fact-finding” trip had been appropriately declared in the parliamentary register.

“Mixed martial arts is already a legal and extremely popular sport in Victoria and the Andrews Labor government has committed to making it safer for participants and audience members alike,” Mr Eren said.

Mixed martial arts, which is the style of fighting in the cage, is not illegal in Victoria, but the use of an octagon cage is.

The new Labor government has promised to end the ban, drawing the ire of some groups, including former police chief commissioner Ken Lay.

Labor promised to end the prohibition after advice from the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board to the Coalition government that they should lift the ban.

It argued that it was safer for the bouts to occur inside the “octagon” enclosure than the boxing ring.

Labor also argued that Victoria was missing out on millions of dollars of tourism dollars. The industry said it could fill Etihad Stadium for a UFC event.

The Coalition spent all of Thursday’s question time attempting to pressure Labor on the issue, questioning the Health, Local Government and Education Minister on the sport, which it said will encourage antisocial behaviour.

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Abbott-factor plays out at university clubs

There’s no mention of Tony Abbott or any Liberal logos at the Monash University Liberal Club tent.
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For O-Week, the club chose instead a large black-and-white poster of the less divisive Menzies.

MULC president James Wilcox said the club had not displayed party material for many years.

“There’s no conspiracy.  We don’t want to give off the appearance that we are dogmatically following the team. We want to be an individual movement.”

Students who sign up are given a letter from the Prime Minister, Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy and federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne. In the letter, Mr Pyne says his “fair and balanced” higher education reforms will ensure the sector is not “left behind in an increasingly competitive market”.

Those who sign up to political clubs on campus will undoubtedly be under closer scrutiny this year following a series of social media controversies. Last year a Liberal member was forced to resign from his post at Swinburne University Liberal Club after posting homophobic and sexist comments on Facebook and Melbourne University Young Liberals referred to women as “sluts” and Muslims as “degenerates” on social media.

Across town at the University of Melbourne, the ALP club used Mr Abbott as a powerful recruitment weapon.

Students who signed up to the ALP club were given stickers and stress balls emblazoned with “Tony Hates the Labor Club”.

Monash ALP club president Ben Knight said the federal government’s moves to deregulate university fees had angered and politicised students.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation issue that needs to be batted away. We need to maintain that momentum on campus.”

The Monash ALP stall was decorated in red balloons, Labor T-shirts and a poster of federal opposition leader Bill Shorten – who got his start here in student politics.

Over at the Greens stall, club secretary David Charlwood was handing out Minties and “Protect Our Reef” pamphlets. He said students were flocking to the Green’s stall. “They are looking for an alternative that is a little more idealistic.”

Vocal left-wing group the Socialist Alternative was noticeably absent from orientation festivities at Monash this week. The Socialist Alternative was deregistered last September after it denied a group of Jewish students entry to a meeting about the war in Gaza, and was accused of discrimination.

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Couple whose baby died after home birth waited three times longer for midwife than expected

A couple whose daughter died days after she was born in a state-backed home-birthing program endured a wait for a midwife three times longer than they expected, a court has heard.
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Emily Kilby and Paul Gent thought a midwife was 15 minutes away when they rang Sunshine Hospital in the early hours of January 26, 2012, after Ms Kilby’s waters broke.

But they were told a midwife was instead 50 minutes away, the Coroners Court heard on Thursday, which meant daughter Chloe was born at home without a midwife present.

Chloe’s parents noticed a change in colour in the baby after her birth and by the time the midwife arrived, the newborn needed resuscitation.

She was taken to hospital but died 10 days later.

Coroner Phil Byrne said on Thursday Chloe’s death would be examined at an inquest, and the hospital’s home-birthing program and the wait for the midwife would be investigated.

Lawyer Emily Hart, representing Ms Kilby and Mr Gent, said the couple believed the midwife would be at Sunshine Hospital, and not on-call.

She said the couple had moved to within a 15-minute radius of the hospital following the birth of their first child, who was born in the back of an ambulance in a fast labour.

Ms Hart said Chloe’s parents only enrolled in the home-birth program after it was suggested to Ms Kilby by the hospital.

“This program was suggested to her by the hospital. She had not sought it out,” Ms Hart said.

Mr Byrne said despite this, the couple had not been forced into a home birth.

The coroner will also examine whether a birthing pool played any role in Chloe’s death, and whether a layperson such as Mr Gent could make informed decisions without a midwife present.

The court was told evidence of meconium staining indicated Chloe was in distress about three hours before she was born.

The court was also told the parents were given the wrong number by the hospital for the midwife who would attend their home.

A lawyer for Western Health, which manages Sunshine Hospital, told the court the hospital had conceded the wrong number was given out.

Ms Kilby and Mr Gent last month filed a writ in the County Court to sue Western Health.

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Council amends draft City Plan

Redland City Council on Thursday agreed to submit an amended draft Redland City Plan to the state government.
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The revamped plan addresses matters raised through a state interest review.

Details of the plan remain confidential until Deputy Premier Jackie Tradagrees to its public release for consultation.

Thursday’s Special Council meeting confidentially considered minor amendments raised through the state interest review process.

Council’s City Planning and Assessment spokespersonJulie Taltysaid after carrying out the State Interest Review Ms Trad must write to council advising it can publicly consult on the proposed planning scheme.

Once adopted, the Redland City Plan will be Council’s blueprint for future development of the city.

“It will enable the city to manage and take advantage of economic and growth opportunities, while maintaining the distinctive character and lifestyle that makes us one of the most ecologically sustainable cities in Australia and a great place to live,” Cr Talty said.

“A key principle underlying the work done on the City Plan has beento reduce the complexity of the planning scheme and make it easier to understand and more user-friendly.

“Previous plans and community engagements that have fed into the draft city plan include Redlands 2030 – Community Plan, Residential Land Availability Review, The Economic Development Framework, Open Space Strategy and Social Infrastructure Plan.”

Tonight’s information session follows library forums, kitchen table talks,displays and interactive online activities.

Future consultation will include forums, online information,activities, library displays, mail-outs, fact sheets, information sessions and meetings with key groups.

Public consultation will be advertised.

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Premier responds to mean tweets

The haters gonna hate, but NSW Premier Mike Baird says he’s going to take the advice of his daughters (and Taylor Swift) and ‘‘shake it off’’.
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Mr Baird tweeted a video of himself reading mean tweets, a take-off of US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s popular videos.

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoEverybody Hurts by R.E.M. played in the background as Mr Baird read the hate mail, including a tweet that said: ‘‘You look like the smiling assassin. Your charming smile hides your black, Liberal heart.’’

Mr Baird started cracking up at another tweet, which suggested he was the devil.

‘‘Mike Baird, I knew you were in Newcastle yesterday coz I could smell the stench of sulfur coming from your pitchfork from over 10 miles away,’’ he read, breaking into laughter.

‘‘This guy should be a writer. I like that. That’s actually quite clever,’’ he says.

He appeared confused about a tweet that said the premier hates Justin Bieber.

‘‘Yeah, of course I hate Justin Bieber. Who doesn’t hate Justin Bieber?’’

He said his daughters are Taylor Swift fans and they’ve given him sage Swifty advice about trolling: just shake it off.

The video even had a blooper reel at the end – to the tune of Swift’s hit song, of course.