Ballantyne reported as Dockers maul Giants

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has backed Hayden Ballantyne despite being reported again in the Dockers’ 76-point win over the GWS Giants at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.

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Ballantyne starred with five goals in the 21.10 (136) to 9.6 (60) victory on the back of a seven-goal-to-two final quarter that puts the Dockers into second on the AFL ladder.

Ballantyne was reported for striking Tomas Bugg behind the play in the third quarter.

Already with 87.5 carryover points hanging over him, Ballantyne is now a chance to miss Fremantle’s clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans sent a memo to clubs during the week warning of commenting on reports and tribunal cases following the Brian Lake and Drew Petrie incident.

Therefore, Lyon was not going to weigh in on having his star forward reported for the third time this season having already missed a week through suspension and then receiving a reprieve at the tribunal the second time.

What Lyon would say, though, is that Ballantyne will continue to be picked when available.

“It is not ideal. There was a good memo came out and was a timely reminder from Mark Evans. We are not allowed to comment. I didn’t see it anyway,” Lyon said.

“He is playing very good footy, we will let that run its course. I value Hayden and every time he is available I will pick Hayden.”

Giants coach Leon Cameron was happy with his team’s effort for three quarters but couldn’t hide his disappointment over the final quarter fadeout.

Despite the encouraging performances from Toby Greene (35 possessions), Callan Ward (29), Dylan Shiel (28), Devon Smith (23), Jeremy Cameron (17 touches, two goals), Lachie Whitfield (three goals) and Adam Tomlinson (19 disposals, two goals), it wasn’t enough in the end.

“They probably got us every time by a goal or two each quarter but we were right in it in terms of where we thought we were at. But the last quarter was disappointing,” Cameron said.

“There were just shocking skill errors, and contested ball, stoppages, every statistic you could name we got blown away in the last quarter.”

Argentina ‘lacked efficiency’ in front of goal

“They played a fantastic World Cup.

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There’s nothing to blame them for,” a drained-looking Sabella said at a news conference after Mario Goetze’s extra time volley sunk his team.

“Today we had our chances but we just lacked efficiency. In general terms, though, I am very proud. Beyond the pain of defeat they can look each other in the eye, and look in the mirror, and know they gave their all for Argentina.”

Striker Gonzalo Higuain missed Argentina’s best chance when a careless header towards his own goal by Germany’s Tony Kroos put him put him clear with only Manuel Neuer to beat, but he dragged his shot wide.

Messi saw plenty of the ball but got few breakthroughs, only escaping his markers once but angling a shot wide.

“This was a very even match. They (Germany) are a great team. The match had its ups and downs. Germany had greater command of play and possession. Our games are very similar and when there are chances, you have to convert,” Sabella said.

“Then in these big games, if you make a mistake and let a goal in, it’s very difficult to come back. But the only thing I can do is congratulate my players, they did an extraordinary job, and congratulate Germany for the title.”

Sabella, whose agent has said he would stand down after the World Cup final, declined to discuss his future.

“The future for me in this moment is to be with the players, to be with the coaching staff, to be with my family, to rest a bit. About the future, I can’t really say anything,” he said.

PRAISE FOR MESSI

Asked if Messi had missed a chance to join the world’s greats by not winning the World Cup, Sabella said the Argentina captain and Barcelona forward had already answered that debate.

“I think Lionel reached the pantheon of the greats a while back,” he said, adding that Messi fully deserved his “Golden Ball” award for best player. “He played a great World Cup to get us where he did. I think it’s very deserved.”

The coach described the mood among his charges in Argentina’s dressing room as sombre.

“It is the silence of the warrior because they were warriors. They left their skin out there, their last drop of sweat on the pitch,” he said.

“The players are very bitter. We had a great dream. We wanted to win the final. To be perfect, we had to be more efficient. I’m sad like the players. On the one hand, it’s a normal pain to have not won. But on the other, I’m satisfied because the group gave their all, they’re a marvellous group.”

Argentina should be praised and remembered for reaching their first final since 1990, he said.

“I leave with a double feeling – the frustration of not achieving the dream, but also the satisfaction of having fulfilled our duty to give 100 percent.”

Midfielder Javier Mascherano summed up the players’ disappointment.

“We gave what we could and we are sorry for the people who came and for the people in Argentina,” he said.

“Unfortunately the pain is going to be for life because this was our opportunity. That’s what we felt. Football is like that. We’ll have to lift our heads to try and bear the pain.”

(Additional reporting by Paulo Prada and Javier Leira, Editing by Nigel Hunt)

Martin powers to stage win, Nibali surrenders yellow

Time-trial world champion Martin attacked after 15 km and dropped his breakaway companion with just under 60 left to win his third Tour stage following time trial victories in 2011 and 2013.

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Gallopin took the overall leader’s yellow jersey after Nibali’s Astana team did not chase hard to catch a counter-attacking group.

That meant the Kazakh team will not be forced to defend the lead in Monday’s 11th stage, one of the most demanding of the Tour.

Gallopin, of the Lotto-Belisol team, now leads Italian Nibali by 1:34 going into Monday’s 161.5-km trek to La Planche des Belles Filles but has little hope of retaining the lead.

Gallopin, whose uncle is a sports director with the Trek team, is the first Frenchman to wear the yellow jersey since Thomas Voeckler in 2011.

Several groups attacked early on, with Martin of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) team and Italian Alessandro De Marchi leading the way.

They were followed by a group of 28 featuring Pierre Rolland – fourth in the Giro this year – and Gallopin, who had been 3:27 behind Nibali at the start.

Martin’s mammoth work helped the duo build a 6:30 lead over the peloton while the Gallopin group could not close the gap, gradually falling back despite the work of Rolland’s Europcar team mates.

Martin powered away with 59 km left at the foot the first-category climb of the Col de Markstein, keeping the Gallopin group at bay while De Marchi struggled.

The OPQS rider, who had come agonisingly close in the Vuelta last year when he was caught by the bunch a few metres from the line after a 175-km breakaway, had time to celebrate well before the finish this time.

Martin shook hands and smiled with his sports director Davide Bramati as OPQS snatched their second stage win of this year’s Tour after Italian Matteo Trentin prevailed on Friday.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara took second place and Belgian Greg van Avermaet finished third in the stage.

Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, third overall last year who said before the race he was looking for stage wins only, signalled his intentions to claim the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification.

The Katusha rider, who was in the Gallopin group, grabbed points at top of the Markstein and Grand Ballon climbs.

Gallopin jumped away from the counter-attacking group in the descent of the Grand Ballon but was reined in with 10 km left.

In what German soccer fans will see as a good omen, German rider Olaf Ludwig won a Tour de France stage on the day Germany beat Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final. The two countries were playing the final later in Rio de Janeiro.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin)

WA coroner examines hospital death

Lynn Desmond Ernest Church had a history of psychiatric illness and had tried to take his own life twice before being placed in an open ward at a mental health facility.

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Despite being observed by nurses every 15 minutes, the 65-year-old managed to make them think he was sleeping soundly in his bed by rolling up towels, blankets and a beanie.

Meanwhile, he entered his ensuite bathroom where he was later found dead from asphyxia.

The West Australian coroner is now investigating the quality of the supervision, treatment and care provided to Mr Church, who was an involuntary patient at the Joondalup Health Campus mental health unit in July 2010.

The coroner will examine the cause and effect of Mr Church’s illness, whether it was appropriate to transfer him to an open ward, and what precautions were taken to remove potentially dangerous items from the open ward given that he was at high risk of suicide.

In her opening address on Monday, counsel assisting the coroner Ilona Burra-Robinson said Mr Church suffered from severe migraines and was in almost constant pain.

He was intermittently referred to psychiatric care and was prescribed various medications, including antidepressants, but would often self-medicate for pain, she said.

Mr Church’s daughter Karen Frances Sibbrett testified her father took medication every day and would “mix and match and alter the doses”, so she recommended he keep a book to record what he was taking.

She said her father did not believe he was depressed – but that he had a pathology issue with his brain – although he did talk about suicide with anyone who would listen.

He had pre-paid his funeral, Ms Sibbrett said.

“He was ready to exit and he’d talk that way for a very long time.”

Ms Sibbrett said her father was experiencing hallucinations and acting more aggressively towards the end of his life.

“I think he was losing his grip on reality a little bit,” she said.

Ms Sibbrett was critical of the level of care her father received and said there had been a “string of poor duty of care” that led to his suicide.

“I felt that I wasn’t being listened to,” she said.

The inquest continues.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Huegill’s race day drug court case

Swimming’s comeback king Geoff Huegill has hit troubled waters after he and his wife were allegedly caught with cocaine at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

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NSW police were patrolling Saturday’s Autumn Carnival race meeting when they were directed to a suite in the grandstand by security.

Officers reportedly approached Huegill, 35, and his 30-year-old wife Sara Hills, after viewing CCTV footage of the two entering a disabled toilet.

Police allegedly gained entry into the toilet after finding the door was locked with the couple inside.

Officers claim to have found a small quantity of white powder, believed to be cocaine, and charged the two with possessing a prohibited drug.

They are due to appear in Waverley Local Court on May 14.

Huegill, a former world record butterfly swimmer who won silver in the 4×100 metre medley relay and bronze in the 100 metre butterfly at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, overcame battles with weight and depression to win two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Lawyer Paul Hunt confirmed the couple were issued with a court notice.

“As the matter is not yet resolved, my clients do not intend to make any further comment at this point in time,” he said in a statement.

On the day he was charged, the popular Huegill posted a photo of him and his wife on Instagram “enjoying the day … in the Moet suites at Randwick”.

He posted a picture of a white bottle of luxury French champagne Moet.

The Olympic medallist is the latest high-profile Australian swimmer to find himself in the spotlight.

Olympic greats Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett have both spent time in rehab this year for depression and sleeping pill addiction respectively.

Scott Miller, butterfly silver medallist at the 1996 Olympics, admitted he was addicted to the drug ice earlier this year after avoiding jail time for drug possession.

Huegill battled weight problems after retiring from swimming following the 2004 Athens Olympics and admitted to taking drugs and suffering depression.

He turned his life around by losing 45kg and returning to the pool, capturing double gold in Delhi before missing the team for the 2012 London Olympics.

In 2011, he revealed he drank heavily, became hooked on fatty food and had suicidal thoughts during his time out of the sport.

“My life from about 2005 to 2007, I experimented with many different things. I guess that’s a story that’s in my past,” he told the Nine Network.

Huegill credited his wife, whom he met in 2007, with turning his life around.

The couple live in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst and have two young daughters.

Since hanging up his goggles, Huegill has set up his own company working as an athlete-entrepreneur, along with public speaking and Club Skip, his weight-loss program.

Lambert accepts fan criticism but calls for Villa unity

A 4-1 defeat at Swansea City on Saturday left the former European champions in 16th on 35 points, three ahead of Lambert’s old club Norwich City, who are 18th and occupy the final relegation place but have played a game more.

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“Criticism is not nice but I’ve had it as a player and as manager. I’ll take it,” Lambert was quoted as saying by British media on Monday.

“I’ve never shied away from it. I’m the manager and it’s my job to protect the players. They are the ones who play the game.

“I totally understand the supporters’ feelings. This is a huge football club and expectation levels are so high because of what has been achieved in the past. The club should never be in this position, that’s the bottom line.

“I’ll take the criticism, but if there was ever a game where the supporters need to get behind the team it’s next Saturday.”

Barring an unlikely run of results from the teams at the bottom of the table, Hull secured their Premier League status for another season after coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at 19th placed Fulham on Saturday.

Hull are in 13th with 37 points and Steve Bruce’s side have an F.A. Cup final against Arsenal to look forward to and Lambert will be hoping to take advantage of the chance to claim the three points with daunting trips to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to finish.

However, Villa have managed only five wins at home this campaign, only two goals in their last four league outings and will again be without long term injury concerns Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak for the run in.

Still, Lambert, who survived a relegation battle last season in his first campaign with the club, remained optimistic they will be playing in the Premier League next year.

“We’d be more worried if our fate wasn’t in our own hands,” the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder said.

“We’ve got three games left, others have got two. One win will do to keep us up and next week’s game is now a cup final.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

NZ shares join global sell-off

New Zealand shares have joined a global sell-off, on concern about heightening tensions between western powers and Russia over Ukraine.

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The benchmark NZX 50 Index fell 38 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,116 on Monday.

Within the index, 32 stocks fell, 11 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $200 million.

The European Union is moving to impose further sanctions against Russia amid concerns the nation is adding to its annexation of Crimea with further incursions into Ukraine.

A2 Milk, which gained 15 per cent over the past year, fell 7.1 per cent to 78 cents, its lowest this year.

Xero fell 5.2 per cent to $30.25, and has declined 24 per cent in the past month after rising more than 200 per cent in 2013.

Pacific Edge, which has gained 90 per cent over the past nine months, declined 1.9 per cent to $1.04.

“There are one or two concerns out there with Russia, and I think investors are being pretty cautious and keeping a close eye on developments there,” said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

“With events offshore, whereas a month or two ago everybody was looking at the growth side of the market, now investors are certainly taking a more cautious approach.

“There is still quite a bit of profit-taking in the high growth sector of the market.”

Chorus, the telecommunications network provider, fell 2.8 per cent to $1.74. Auckland International Airport dropped 1.5 per cent to $3.91. Infratil, the infrastructure investor, slipped 1.3 per cent to $2.24 and construction firm Fletcher Building was unchanged at $9.76.

Telecom went against the trend, climbing 1.9 per cent to $2.665.

Goodman Fielder jumped 20 per cent to a two-month high of 69 cents on the NZX after the world’s biggest palm oil processor, Wilmar International, teamed up with Hong Kong-listed investor First Pacific Co to make an $A1.27 billion ($NZ1.37b) offer for the Australasian food ingredients maker.

Explainer: How to protect yourself from ATM card scams

ATM scammers seize more than $100,000: NSW PoliceWhat is card skimming?

Card skimming is when someone illegally copies the information from the magnetic strip on your bank or credit card.

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This can be done via an ATM or an EFTPOS machine.

Once these details are taken, a “cloned” or fake card can be created. Fraudsters can then use the fake card to make purchases using your money. They’re also able to take out loans in your name and can even steal your identity.

How do skimming devices work?

At an ATM, a card-reading device is attached on top of the normal card slot which captures data from your card’s magnetic strip. A hidden camera or a fake keypad is also attached to record your personal identification number (PIN).

A skimming device in an EFTPOS machine is hard to detect, as the modified machine looks just like a normal machine. The device captures information from the magnetic strip on the card.

Warning signs to look out for

According to ScamWatch, here are some warning signs to look out for:

Does the ATM look normal? Can you notice any unusual modifications? (e.g. glue residue, exposed wires, double-sided tape).The retail assistant takes your card out of sight in order to process the transaction.The assistant swipes the card from a machine that looks unusual or different to what you normally see.Your card is swiped more than once.How to protect yourself from card skimmingBe as discreet as possible when withdrawing money from an ATMAlways cover your hand when you enter in your PIN.If a shopkeeper tries to take your card out of your sight, ask for it back. Try to pay with cash or don’t make the purchase at all.Keep your card in sight at all times when you’re paying for something.Don’t share your PIN with anyone.Don’t keep a written copy of your PIN with your bank card.Don’t email your PIN or any personal information to someone claiming to be from your bank.Check your bank statements regularly. You can access this information immediately via online banking or your bank’s smartphone app.What to do if you suspect somethingIf you suspect your card has been skimmed, call your bank immediately.Change your PIN immediately so the fraudsters can’t access your account.Report the incident to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000Report the scam to ScamWatch so they can investigate the matter. 

 

Gillett delight at Test call-up

Matt Gillett admits to mixed feelings when he learned he’ll make his rugby league Test debut for Australia.

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The 25-year-old Brisbane back-rower intends to savour every moment of Friday’s clash with New Zealand at Allianz Stadium after being rewarded for outstanding early season form.

But it was a bittersweet moment for Gillett when informed he would be called into the match squad to replace Broncos’ teammate Sam Thaiday, who was ruled out on Monday due to his calf muscle injury.

“I am pretty happy with the way things have worked out, but I am pretty disappointed for Sam,” said Gillett.

“He’s been battling for a couple of weeks to come back but obviously his calf is not right. So I think I owe Sammy something.

“I found out only this morning that I was playing after coming down as 18th man and straight on the phone to my wife and mum and dad. It was pretty emotional.

“They’re coming down on Friday and I can’t wait to run out in the green and gold in front of them.”

Sheens said he’d been hopeful Thaiday would be able to play but the decision to rule him out was taken after he struggled to come through a fitness test at Allianz Stadium on Monday morning.

“He did a little bit this morning and it tightened up a bit so we said no,” Sheens told AAP.

“Brisbane weren’t too sure if he would be right, but we had to make a call early in the week and Sam was happy with that.”

Sheens is yet to decide who will replace Thaiday in the starting line-up with interchange forward Boyd Cordner and Gillett both in contention to play.

“Both Boydy and Gillett are good players who have played State of Origin and both do a job if selected,” he said.

North Queensland back Brent Tate will jhoin the squad later in the week as the new 18th man.

Ice cream hurting reef: Qld govt

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has been hauled over the coals by the Queensland government for supporting WWF’s “propaganda” save the reef campaign.

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Environment Minister Andrew Powell wants Australians to boycott the American company, saying they’ve damaged the reputation of the reef and jeopardised jobs and tourism dollars.

“Another company has signed up to the campaign of lies and deceit that’s been propagated by WWF,” Mr Powell said.

“The only people taking a scoop out of the reef is Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever.

“If you understand the facts, you’d want to be boycotting Ben and Jerry’s.”

The minister says he’d be writing to parent company Unilever to express concerns and brief them on the truth.

Earlier this month, Ben and Jerry’s withdrew popular flavour Phish Food because of its allusion to fishfood, as a way of drawing attention to the potential damage to the reef.

They also embarked on a road trip around parts of Australia, giving out free ice cream to highlight their concerns over damage to the reef.

They say the reef is at serious risk of destruction from intensive dredging and dumping, mega-ports and shipping highways.

The brand has championed environmental causes in its 35-year history, including opposing drilling in the Arctic, and says it’s a proud supporter of WWF’s campaign.

“Ben & Jerry’s believes that dredging and dumping in world heritage waters surrounding the marine park area will be detrimental to the reef ecology,” Australia brand manager Kalli Swaik told AAP.

“It threatens the health of one of Australia’s most iconic treasures.”

The Queensland and federal governments in January approved the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the marine park and World Heritage area to enable the Abbot Point coal port expansion.

The government says 70 per cent of the spoil is expected to settle on the seabed.

WWF fears spoil could get caught in currents and smother or poison reefs just 40km away.

CEO Dermot O’Gorman says Ben and Jerry’s involvement reflects the concern of people around the world about how the reef is being managed.

“Ben & Jerry’s’ tour is a timely reminder that the world expects the Queensland and Australian governments to lift their game,” he said.

UNESCO is due to meet in June to consider the Australian government’s progress in improving the management of the reef.

It’s due to decide this year or next whether to list the reef as a world heritage site in danger.

Splendour add Childish Gambino, Sam Smith

Three more acts have been added to the Splendour in the Grass line-up.

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Childish Gambino, Adelaide’s Hilltop Hoods and Sam Smith will play the three-day event in July, the festival’s organisers announced on Monday.

“We didn’t get these three confirmed in time for the line-up announce(d) last Wednesday – too many cocktails over Easter – so we have a special edition announce(ment) for you! Hilltop Hoods, childish Gambino and Sam Smith will be playing Splendour 2014. Better late than never!” said co-producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco in a statement.

Headliners, hip-hop duo Outkast, inadvertently leaked on their website they would be playing the festival days before the official announcement.

However, organisers weren’t too perturbed, as Piticco explained the slip-up helped generate more excitement for Splendour.

“I think that actually if anything it kind of built the anticipation towards the festival a little bit so I don’t think it was a bad thing,” Pittico told AAP.

“I think everybody’s pretty happy that Outkast are playing, so no harm, no foul.”

Rapper Childish Gambino may also be known as his actor alter-ego, Donald Glover, who starred in TV series Community.

The Hilltop Hoods will join other local acts Angus and Julia Stone, Triple J’s Top 100 winner Vance Joy and The Preatures.

English singer Sam Smith adds to the already eclectic international line-up which includes Lily Allen Interpol, Two Door Cinema Club, London Grammar, Kelis and Foster the People.

* Splendour in the Grass takes place July 25-27, Byron Bay.

Australian doctor fighting ebola epidemic

(Transcript from World News Radio)

The worst outbreak of the ebola virus in seven years is still taking its toll in the West African nations of Guinea and Liberia.

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Thought to be spread by bats, the virus kills nine out of ten people who contract it.

In this latest outbreak 142 people have died, the majority in Guinea.

Australian epidemiologist, Dr Kamalini Lokuge, has just returned from Guinea where she’s been working with the families of those infected as a volunteer for Médecins Sans Frontières.

Brian Thomson has the details.

It’s a frightening sight to observe, especially for the patients: doctors dressed in suits similar to those worn by experts who handle hazardous materials.

With a near 90 per cent fatality rate, the doctors and nurses at a specially established ebola isolation centre in Guinea’s capital are forced to take extraordinary precautions to prevent themselves from becoming infected.

It’s a scene that Australian epidemiologist Kamalini Lokuge is becoming all too familiar with.

Now back home in Canberra, her visit to Guinea was the fourth time she has been to work in an ebola-affected region.

“Because you see it spreading within families and many family members dying, You see it spreading within health facilities and health workers infected and dying. I think all of that combines to make it a disease that is feared.”

It’s Kamalini’s job to map the spread of the disease, to track down affected families and win their trust.

“[In] One family, there was a patient who died, was tested and came positive but had presented very late. We didn’t understand how he got infected and we also very much concerned that he may have had lot of contacts at home while he was sick so went to his house a couple of times… When we first arrived they were very angry because there had been these people from outside visiting, the community had been asking questions, they were feeling stigmatised but we spent time explaining what care was given in the treatment centre, explaining how we control the disease, explaining our role. After that discussion, the head of that family brought two people from the family who had been sick but not willing to come.”

Those who succumb die an horrific death, bleeding internally and externally.

But perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the disease is the fact that the families of those infected cannot hold their loved ones in their dying days.

“If family members are very keen we give them protective equipment but because of the barriers, because of the precautions, it can often be even more alienating. Particularly for example parents of children, it’s very difficult.”

Thanks in part to the work done by people like Kamalini, only around 2,000 people have contracted ebola since the disease was first identified in the mid-1970s.

And thanks to the precautions taken by MSF, none of their health workers has ever been contracted the disease.

But that doesn’t make it any easier for the families of those who go to help.

“My family and my mum are used to it now. She never says don’t go. I think everyone finds it hard. I have eight nieces and nephews and they’re all under eight yers old. They are all incredibly proud of what I do so that feels good. We’re very lucky in Australia. Every time I come back from an outbreak I think we have everything here and part of acknowledging how lucky we are – for me at least – is to help those who don’t have as much.”

 

 

Banks accused of links with unethical overseas practices

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Australia’s biggest financial institutions have jumped to defend themselves against reports of alleged links to unethical practices overseas.

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Land grabs, unapproved logging and child exploitation are amongst the accusations.

But the banks have told SBS that new international customers and investments are put under scrutiny to ensure that unethical practices are not taking place.

Abby Dinham reports.

 

Australia’s big four banks are being accused of having business dealings with controversial overseas companies at the centre of land grabbing allegations.

 

An Oxfam Australia report claims that ANZ, Westpac, National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank are affiliated with organisations reportedly involved in illegal logging, forced evictions, inadequate compensation and child labour.

 

Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke:

 

“We’re talking about land grabs which are mainly agribusiness which acquire land either illegally or not going through the processes of consent and compensation for the people who owned the land and this has resulted in often illegal practices forced evictions and from our persectives the most concerning thing is that it leaves people with food shortages and often without a home.”

 

Dr Szoke says the scale of the investments is worth billions.

 

“Well Australia’s big four banks the ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth and the NAB have in excess of 20 billion dollars worth of investments in these kind of businesses overseas so this is a big exposure for them financially and also in terms of reputation risk.”

 

In Papua New Guinea, Oxfam claims that Westpac is supporting a timber company that is illegally logging rain forest, despite order from a P-N-G Commission of Inquiry to stop.

 

In Cambodia, the report says that the ANZ Bank is financing a sugar plantation that has been accused of using child labour, and claiming land by force.

 

The report states that Phnom Penh Sugar plantation issued just 100 dollars to land owners and that families were resettled on infertile land.

 

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank has been accused of investing in a Brazilian agribusiness that farm on contested Indigenous land.

 

And the NAB is accused of funding Asian palm oil giant, Wilmar, which has been linked to land grab allegations in Indonesia and Malaysia, since 2011.

 

Doctor Szoke says the decisions of Australia’s big banks are having real impacts on some of the world’s poorest people.

 

“What we’re talking about is men and women with families who often are subsistance farmers who rely on the land for their own livlihoods and what has happened in the big banks investing in these companies is that their situations have become more dire for them because they haven’t had appropriate compensation and are going to bed hungry every night and often homeless.”

 

Oxfam says its investigations show the banks are on shaky ground with these investments, facing potential asset write downs and the possibility that foreign governments and courts will shut down land deals.

 

Stuart Palmer from Australian Ethical Investment says that could result in significant financial loss for the banks and their shareholders.

 

“If they’ve lent to a particular project which is relying on land which has been acquired improperly and that land then is taken away from that company then the risk that the bank won’t get repaid it’s loan is increased so that’s the potential financial impact that these sorts of practices can have on the banks.”

 

And Mr Palmer says the banks also face financial loss if their reputations are damaged as a result of these investments.

 

He says customers are becoming more discerning of where they are investing their money.

 

“We’re seeing a really strong tend where people, our clients, others are really trying to allign their personal values with their money. So partly that’s who they bank with, who they buy things from and also how they invest their money.”

 

NAB has told SBS that it actively assesses issues related to human rights – including improper land acquisition – and that the bank supports actions that promote better outcomes for businesses and the communities in which they operate.

 

The ANZ says almost half the companies it was linked with in the Oxfam report are no longer customers, including one that exited several years ago for social and environmental reasons.

 

The Commonwealth Bank says it does not have proprietary interest in the Brazilian agribusiness it was linked to, but discussions on the report will take place.

 

And Westpac told SBS it has zero tolerance for customers operating outside the law and is currently addressing the claims of improper land acquisitions raised in the report.

 

Doctor Szoke says Oxfam doesn’t want the banks to pull out of investments in these countries but to use their financial leverage to steer clients in a more ethical direction.

 

“It’s absolutely clear that the big four banks can potentially have a really positive role, we’re not saying pull out of investment in these companies we’re saying use your investment power to hold these companies to account.”