Chief Justice Diana Bryant confident commercial surrogacy will be legalised in Australia

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua with baby Gammy who has Down syndrome and was rejected by the prospective parents.The head of the Family Court is confident Australia will legalise commercial surrogacy and this will help defeat the “dark side” of an international trade that leads to exploitation and the tragic rejection of children such baby Gammy in Thailand.
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Delivering a lecture on Wednesday, Chief Justice Diana Bryant painted a picture of the 21st century family and the moral and ethical challenges posed by the technological possibilities of the era.

“In Denmark there’s a huge industry in Danish sperm, which they market as Viking sperm,” Chief Justice Bryant told the Affinity Intercultural Foundation audience in Sydney.

While India had egg banks, it had imported eggs from Ukraine and Georgia for would-be parents wanting a “more Caucasian-looking child”.

Commercial surrogacy is outlawed in all Australian states and territories except the Northern Territory, and for residents of NSW, Queensland and the ACT it is illegal to enter such contracts overseas, but couples desperate for children persist in breaking the law.

“Twenty-five per cent of the international surrogacy arrangements in the world are contracted by Australians,” Chief Justice Bryant said. This amounted to about 1000 babies last year – “because we do not allow commercial surrogacy in Australia”.

It led to distressing cases: the Australian couple who wanted a girl and refused to take her twin brother from their Indian surrogate; another couple who rejected Gammy, a boy with Down syndrome, and took only his twin sister from Thailand.

Thailand outlawed surrogacy deals for foreigners in reaction to the Gammy scandal, but this only served to push the “business” deeper into the Third World and countries such Nepal and India, the judge said.

She said she was not the public face of legalising commercial surrogacy in Australia. But Chief Justice Bryant called for an urgent federal inquiry and said Australia could create a “moral and ethical underpinning” for commercial surrogacy, with legislation that protected would-be parents and surrogate mothers but, most importantly, the children born of their contracts.

“We are allowing the birth of children [overseas] who will never know their biological mother and have no means of finding out who that might be,” Chief Justice Bryant said.

Their right to know their biological origins was covered by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but Australia was being “extremely irresponsible”.

The United States had good arrangements for commercial surrogacy. If Australia followed, some parents would still travel to Asia to take the cheaper option, she said, but they could be prevented from bringing the children home unless they could meet minimum requirements, including proof of the babies’ genetic origins.

The overseas clinics were businesses “and they will change their business model to ensure it’s compliant with what Australia requires”, Chief Justice Bryant said.

“As a nation, we haven’t grappled with the problem ourselves, and these are our citizens who are causing the problems.”

She was “passionate” about driving legislative change and she told Fairfax Media she believed “it will happen here and I think it will happen internationally”.

“There is a very dark side to this and, if left to their own devices, people can be quite inhumane and quite unethical about what they do.”

WWI in the Herald: April 20, 1915

WWI in the Herald: Archive
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The latest communique states:-

Our artillery stopped an attack on the trenches at Bordes St. Maitre, in the Aisne Valley. A subsequent bayonet charge inflicted serious losses on the enemy.

A French aeroplane brought down a German between Langemarck and Passchendaele, after a brilliant pursuit.

A previous communique states:-

A Belgian aeroplane brought down a German aeroplane at Roulers, 10 miles north-west of Courtrai. Our airmen bombarded the aviation ground at Roulers.

Amsterdam, Sunday.

An official message from Berlin says that the British blew up a German position south-east of Ypres, north of the canal.

The British were driven out of one crater which they held, but they still occupy three others. The battle continues.

London, Sunday.

An official statement, issued by Press Bureau, states that on the 16th instant, three aeroplanes flew from the Suez Canal to Elvirr, 25 miles from El Arish.

They dropped nine bombs effectively on about 200 tents.

None of the enemy’s troops were seen within sight of Elvirr, although one or two outposts are known to exist.

On the same date a French cruiser (assisted by a seaplane) bombarded a camp near El Arish.

No large number of troops were seen, though the enemy fired on the cruiser and the seaplane without doing any harm.

On the 17th instant the French cruiser again bombarded the camp at Gaza, inflicting considerable damage on the troops.

London, Monday.

The British Admiralty reports that the submarine E15 was reconnoitring a minefield, when she went aground at Kephez, in the Dardanelles, on the coast of Asia Minor.

An official message from Constantinople states that 24 of the crew were rescued and taken prisoners.

Seven are reported missing.

With a view to dispelling rumours of a Dardanelles disaster, Mr. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, announced that nothing has occurred since March 18th, except local bombardment.

The Allies have not sustained any loss in a naval action in the North Sea.

Athens, Monday.

Mine-sweeping operations in the Dardanelles continue to be proceeded with by the Allies.

Every day warships enter the Straits, in order to prevent repairs to the forts which have been silenced.

The bombardment of the Dardanelles was resumed on Saturday.

Petrograd, Monday.

An official communique, summarising the Carpathians struggle to the 5th instant, says:-

After 18 days’ persistent fighting, we captured a front 70 miles long, and took prisoners 70,000 men, including 900 officers, 30 guns, and 200 maxim guns.

(From Embarkation Rolls)

Private Robert Thomas Foster, Boolaroo, 1st Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

Lieutenant Edward Thomas Harnett, Merewether, 17th Infantry Battalion

Private Gore Willock James, Newcastle, 3rd Australian General Hospital

Private Archibald Torrens Lloyd, Ardglen, 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment, 8th Reinforcements

Private Hamilton Leslie Osborne , Raymond Terrace, 1st Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

Private William Vincent Power, West Maitland, 20th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private George Henry Priestley, Martins Creek, 1st Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

Private Donald Douglas Scobie, Oakhampton, 18th InfantryBattalion

Patience, It’s A Virtue for Canberra trainer Jules de Smet at Wagga Gold Cup

It’s A Virtue, left, can give Jule de Smet the Wagga feature double after New Edge won the Town Plate in 2007. Photo: Katherine GriffithsWith a Town Plate already under his belt, Canberra trainer Jules de Smet is hoping patience is a virtue when it comes to this year’s listed Wagga Gold Cup.
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It’s A Virtue is his hope in this year’s 2000m feature in the two-day Wagga carnival, which starts on Thursday.

De Smet won the other feature, the Town Plate (1200m), with New Edge in 2007 and would love to complete the double in the Gold Cup on Friday.

He rated the son of Starcraft “an each-way chance” in the $140,000 race, but felt the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Gypsy Diamond was the horse to beat.

De Smet took a punt on It’s A Virtue when he bought the six-year-old gelding at the Easter sales.

X-rays revealed It’s A Virtue had a problem with his hocks, but the Canberra trainer was encouraged to buy him anyway by one of the ACT’s best judges, Barbara Joseph.

“He didn’t pass all his x-rays at the Easter Sales and he didn’t race until late, so patience is a virtue … that’s how he got his name,” de Smet said. “Barbara Joseph actually told me to go and look at him, she said he’d be worth a punt.

“[New Edge] won a Town Plate … so let’s hope I can get the double.”

It’s A Virtue won a spot in the Gold Cup after finishing in a dead heat with Cardiff Prince in the Murrumbidgee Cup (1800m) two weeks ago.

The Starcraft gelding then finished seventh in the Country Cup (2000m) at Wagga last Tuesday, five lengths behind Joe Cleary’s Landlocked.

Cleary has Glen Boss on board as he goes for three wins in a row with Landlocked, a streak that includes the Gundagai Cup (1800m).

“He’s racing really, really well and this is the race I targeted him for,” Cleary said.

“He gets in good at the weights [54.5kg] and his work on Monday was outstanding so it’s my best chance to win a Wagga Cup … fingers crossed we can get some fun vouchers and come home.”

The Kurt Goldman-trained Canberra Cup winners Faust (2015) and Court Connection (2013) will also run in the Gold Cup.

Matthew Dale will go for his third straight victory in the $100,000 Town Plate on Thursday.

The past two years Unanimously has won it and this year the young Canberra trainer has Meticulously entered.

Laurie’s Love, Got The Goss, Stolen Kisses and Highly Geared (emergency) are the other Canberra and Queanbeyan runners in the Plate.

WWI in the Herald: April 19, 1915

WWI in the Herald: Archive
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The announcement by Mr. Holman, the State Premier that the Government intends to proclaim Empire Day this year as a public holiday throughout the State gives rise to doubts as to the propriety or wisdom of the proposal.

It is, of course, understood that it is prompted purely by a spirit of loyalty and a desire to give public expression to Australia’s views. But however excellent the intention may be, its wisdom will be questioned on various grounds.

To begin with, there is no need today to offer any further proof of the whole-hearted and loyal support which Australia is giving to the Mother Country.

Not a day passes but there is a manifestation of that spirit in one form or another. Australia’s naval and military help is regarded by the Imperial authorities as of great value.

While her troops have not so far appeared at the front in any part of Europe, their presence in Egypt was of moral utility. But before the war terminates they will have the opportunity of showing that they can comport themselves as gallantly as any other of the Imperial armies in the field.

Whatever may be said to the contrary in relation to its population and resources – that is as to the provision of accoutrements and munitions – Australia has done well.

She is still recruiting, training, and equipping soldiers to reinforce the Allies. In the work of charity Australia’s share is not inconsiderable, and it is being carried out on a scale which will make it assume very large proportions before the war is over.

It will probably continue long after hostilities are concluded, as not only the sick and wounded, but the unfortunate people whose towns, villages, and farms have been stripped and destroyed both in Belgium and France will need assistance until they can make a fresh start in life.

There is probably hardly a home in Australia today where something is not being done in this splendid cause of humanity and charity.

A ceremony such as that which may be carried out for special observance will not emphasise this feeling. The day will always be commemorated quietly as in the past.

It is not, however, on this ground that the proposal to turn the day into a public holiday is opposed. But, in addition to the fact that it is not necessary to proclaim Australia’s loyalty by any special ceremonial, there is the fact that the present is a time for working, and not for holiday making.

The object, of course, is different, but that is what the day will amount to.

There are not wanting people who assert that Australia is too much addicted to holidays. One day is not a long time to suspend work, but it implies a diminution of the power of the woollen and armament factories to supply goods which are most urgently needed.

New South Wales plays a large share in providing the requirements of the Commonwealth Government, and it is not desirable that this work should be unnecessarily stayed.

It has also to be remembered that while a holiday may always be welcomed to certain classes there are a large number of daily wage-earners to whom it comes as a sacrifice.

In all probability the example of New South Wales will not be followed by the other States, and it is more than questionable if it will be adopted by the Federal Government, The one day on which a holiday as a day of rejoicing would be hailed with pleasure would be the day that peace is signed as the result of crushing victories won by the Allies.

Amsterdam, Saturday.

It is officially stated in Berlin that naval airships successfully bombarded several defended towns on the British east coast.

They all returned undamaged, despite the heavy fire to which they had been subjected.

Petrograd, Sunday.

An official communique states:-

There has been desperate fighting in the Carpathians. We took prisoner 1140 men, and captured three machine guns. The enemy suffered heavy losses.

We successfully repulsed the enemy in the direction of Stry, where the Austrians are attempting a turning movement against the Russian left.

We captured two heights near the Telphotsch roads.

The Carpathian roads are everywhere in a bad condition, owing to the thaw which has set in.

Our destroyers sank four steamers and several sailing vessels off the coast of Anatolia.

Petrograd. Sunday.

The military expert of the “Novoe Vremya” states that Germany is evidently preparing to attack the whole front in the hope of saving the situation by an overwhelming blow on the Censochova-Cracow front.

Rome, Sunday.

The ‘Corrieredella Sera’ states that the streets of Constantinople were on Wednesday placarded with manifestoes demanding peace, and accusing the Germans of the origin of the Turkish people’s misfortunes.

The newspaper adds that the desire for peace among the poorer classes is almost universal. Many are in a state of semi-starvation.

Paris, Friday.

A communique states:-

A battleship supported by aeroplanes, effectively bombarded the El Arish end of the concentration camp of Turkish troops.

Amsterdam, Sunday.

A Constantinople telegram states that H.M.Ss. Majestic and Swiftsure bombarded the fortifications near Gabatepen on Thursday.

Petrograd, Sunday.

The German’s timely reinforcements, consisting of ten army corps, have thus far saved the Uzok Pass from falling into the Russian’s hands, but the latter almost have surrounded the Pass, and are gaining new heights daily.

The Telepuich and Zuella battle began on Wednesday, when the Russians advanced in dead silence, and cut the enemy’s wire entanglements, and surprised the enemy with an overwhelming bayonet charge. The Russians did not fire.

The Kaiser is sending Bavarian and Saxons systematically to Bukovina and the Carpathians, while concentrating his home troops on the Prussian frontier.

The manoeuvre either indicates dissentions, or that the Warsaw front is still regarded as the danger point.

The Russians made a slight forward movement at Sokhaczew.

In a report to Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, General Bridges, in command of the Australian Expeditionary Force, refers to some of the statements appearing in Australian papers concerning the conduct of the troops.

“I am not aware,” he states, “of anything that has occurred that warrants such sweeping statements that have been made, and I give them a full denial.”

Senator Pearce added: “I now also officially deny those statements. I am not referring so much to Captain Bean’s letters, as to the use made of them by some of the newspapers.”

The report continues: “The percentage of men who have to be returned for misconduct is, I think, very small. Most of the offences were purely military offences, such as absence without leave, and drunkenness.”

(From Embarkation Rolls)

AB Driver Archer Cox Castleden, Toronto, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train

Sergeant James Duncan, Hamilton, Australian Army Medical Corps, General Reinforcements

Private William Innes, Killingworth, 1st Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

Private John Henry Mitchell, North Lambton, 2nd Australian General Hospital, Special Reinforcements

Private John Tonner, Teralba, 20th Infantry Battalion

Matt Dale aims for three-peat in Wagga Town Plate

Matt Dale is aiming for his third Wagga Town Plate in a row with Meticulously. Photo: Graham TidyCanberra trainer Matthew Dale will be shooting for his third-successive $100,000 Gold Town Plate (1200m) at Wagga on Thursday when he saddles up Meticulously.
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Dale won the 2013 and 2014 Plates with Unanimously, ridden by Glyn Schofield and Blake Shinn respectively.

He is the first to admit Meticulously, a four-year-old by Not A Single Doubt, the same sire as Unanimously, does not quite have the same ability as his dual-winner. But he goes into the event on the first day of the two-day Wagga Gold Cup carnival as a “definite live chance”.

“I’ve got a sound, fit horse with a good chance,” Dale said. “He’ll have to be right at the top of his game to win but he’s fit and healthy and has a liking for the Wagga circuit. Hopefully he can use that to be right in the thick of things.”

Meticulously goes into the feature sprint first-up from a 128-day spell.

“Since bringing him back this campaign I’ve had the Town Plate in mind,” Dale said. “He’s done very well.

“I’ve given him two 800m jump-outs and he did what he had to do. He’s come through them well and his work’s been good.”

Meticulously scored first-up last preparation over 1200m at Canberra in a benchmark 70 handicap on October 24 last year carrying 59kg.

“He’s had a very similar lead-in this time,” Dale said. “I’m as happy with the horse as I was before he won in Canberra with a big weight, albeit in an easier race.

“He had a viral setback mid-preparation last campaign which he never fully recovered from but everything has been good this time around.

“Thursday represents a step-up in class but he gets in with a nice weight (54kg) and has drawn a decent barrier (eight).

“Brenton (Avdulla) has won on him at Canterbury and he should suit the horse.”

Tye Angland has Voodoo on his side in Wagga Cup

Tye Angland had never ridden a racehorse before leaving Wagga as a 15-year-old but he has always wanted to return home and win the Wagga Cup.
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A couple of placings in the cup have only driven his ambition and he believes he is on the right stayer in Our Voodoo Prince on Friday. Angland will arrive in great form after kicking home the first two winners at Canterbury on Wednesday.

“My family are still there and it is a race I have wanted to win for most of my career. I have had a second and third but I think I’m going there with a great chance,” Angland said.

“I might have left when I was 15 but it is still home.”

Our Voodoo Prince is a half brother to English and Irish Derby winner Australia and got back to his best form when runner-up to Pornichet in the Neville Sellwood Stakes on Golden Slipper day.

He was disappointing in the JRA Plate behind Wagga Cup favourite Gypsy Diamond but that could be put down to the soft Randwick track.

“He is back in grade and on a good track, which are positives for him. We know he will run the trip and I’m actually pretty confident,” Angland said. “I was going to ride Street Sense, which I was on in the Albury Cup when it ran third.

“Something went wrong there, I don’t know what but to pick one up for Chris Waller, that is very good at 2000 metres is great.

“If you look at his run, two runs back it was a very good effort and if he runs up to that I’ll be in the finish.”

Angland teamed with Waller to win the opener at Canterbury on Wednesday with the well-related Press Statement before Once Again gave him a second win.

Press Statement is half brother to Waller’s two-year-old group 1 winner Pressday and had impressed Angland at the barrier trials.

“I thought he was a nice horse from his trials but I didn’t expect him to be doing that first-up at 1100 metres,” Angland said. “He will only get better as the races get longer.”

Angland could be looking at riding the Wagga Cup and Hawkesbury Cup winners on consecutive days as he lines up on Ecuador at Hawkesbury, where he started his time as a jockey.

The Gai Waterhouse-trained five-year-old returned from more than year out because of injury. He was run down by Rugged Cross on the final day of the carnival at Randwick.

“It was a hard-run 1400 metres and he did well to hang on,” Angland said. “I think the blinkers going back on him will make a big difference to him as will the benefit fitness-wise he takes from that run.”

Ecuador has a good record on soft ground, which he is likely to get on Saturday. Hawkesbury Race Club chief executive Brian Fletcher said the track had stood up well to more than 400mm of rain this month and was rated a soft-7 on Wednesday.

“The new drainage has made a huge difference. On the old track we would be extremely doubtful,” Fletcher said. “But with drains every two metres the water can get away.

“Going at the forecast it is not too good for Friday and Saturday but we are hopeful that we will race.”

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

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WWI in the Herald: April 16, 1915

WWI in the Herald: Archive
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The speech delivered by Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, at the opening of the Federal Parliamentary sessions was especially interesting in many points, but necessarily the financial outlook is of chief interests.

The Government has been put to a very large expenditure in connection with the war, while on the other hand, its revenues have necessarily suffered from various causes.

All Australia realises the situation, and is fully in accord with the Government so far as their military policy is concerned.

The general desire, in point of fact, quite regardless of financial considerations, is that the assistance that has been given to the Imperial Government should be greatly increased.

The Federal Government fully shares this view.

The issues which depend upon the great war now being waged in Europe are too momentous to allow of any hesitation as regards expenditure.

But there are limitations to the powers of the Government.

The first hinges upon the financial issue, and the second and more important upon the question of the capacity of Australia to equip new troops.

As regards the monetary question, that of course, could be solved in various ways. Australia is bearing a fair share of taxation at the present day, and is also giving its money freely and voluntarily through various channels to assist the sufferers through the war, and to benefit the troops in the field.

Mr. Fisher was, however, able to inform Parliament that the Imperial Government, realising the difficulty of raising large sums of money at the present day, had agreed to advance a further sum of £10,000,000, of which £6,500,000 is to go towards the war expenses, and the balance of £3,500,000 to be devoted to Federal public works.

That has wholly relieved the financial situation for the present.

The Imperial Government has acted generously in merely asking that it should be recouped the interest which it has to pay on the money borrowed, and it is not going too far to say that its readiness to assist is partly the outcome of its recognition of the good services of Australia’s navy and the readiness with which it has sent military forces to aid the Imperial cause.

Mr. Fisher, while justly giving credit to the Commonwealth Bank for its work, expressed gratitude to the great Australian banking companies for the manner in which they are assisting the work of the Government.

The Australian bank note system is now proving its value, and so long as it is kept in bounds it will be of great assistance to the Commonwealth.

The liability which Australia will incur in consequence of the war cannot at present be estimated.

It necessarily depends upon a variety of circumstances, and chiefly upon the duration of the great campaign now convulsing Europe. It may be that the present liability will be very largely exceeded.

But the people of Australia can afford to look upon this outlay with calm satisfaction. In the first place, they can regard it as the price of securing the freedom of the world for many years at least of militarism which was attempting world despotism.

And in the next, it will give place to the birth of new commercial and industrial activities in all parts of the Empire, which will include Australia in the gainers.

The other gains to Australia will be the German possessions which she has captured in the South Pacific. In this connection, it may be noted that the Imperial Government has at last made a direct reference to the question of consultation with the Dominions in regard to the terms of peace.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Lewis Harcourt, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated that the Government intends to consult the Dominions fully and personally when the time to discuss peace arrives.

Nothing else was expected of the Government, whose relations with the Dominions have always been of the fairest and most straightforward kind, but the announcement is satisfactory in view of its refusal to hold a preliminary conference at an early date.

The relations between the British Government and the Dominions must be exciting a fine moral effect in the world, not excluding the enemy countries, which are now slowly awakening to a sense of the inevitable and crushing defeat, with its terrible subsequent burdens, which now awaits them.

Melbourne, Thursday.

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, announced today that the hospital offered to and accepted by the War Office, would contain 1040 beds, while 34 medical officers, 146 nurses, and 250 non-commissioned officers and men would comprise the staff. The hospital would be equipped in Australia as far as possible.

Fifty members of the Australian Imperial Force returned by the Maloja which arrived at Melbourne on Monday. They have been sent back for disciplinary offences.

(From Embarkation Rolls)

Driver Hilton Bede Allen, Newcastle, 19th Infantry Battalion

Major Donald Cameron, Davies Creek, 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment

Private William John Clinton, Cooks Hill, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Eric Godfrey Eckford, West Maitland, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Alexander Thomas Laurie, Rawdon Vale, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private James McIlwee, West Maitland, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Private Norman Peacock, Morpeth, 19th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

Bali 9 executions: How the key figures responded

Abbott government withdraws ambassador to IndonesiaPolice officers would face jail for death penalty tip-offsMark Kenny: Cold comfort in diplomatic deep freezeWhy hope should be the final stage of Australia’s griefFamilies hysterical after hearing fatal shotsEight prisoners refused blindfolds as they were shot
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“These executions are both cruel and unnecessary. Cruel because both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent some decade in jail before being executed and unnecessary because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated.”Prime Minister Tony Abbott

“Our concern centres on the fact that the apparent rehabilitation of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran was not taken into account … They were examples of the hope and transformation that can come about through reflection, rehabilitation and remorse.”Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

“Indonesia needs to understand how strongly Australia feels and how united we are in our condemnation of this disgusting act.”Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

“Their families now bear the loss of these two young men for the rest of their lives. This is a life sentence for their families and friends.”Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek

“It was breathtaking. This was the first time I witnesses someone so excited to meet their god.”Pastor Karina de Vega, present at the execution as the eight prisoners started singing together

“I failed. I lost … I am sorry.”Todung Mulya Lubis, human rights lawyer who acted on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran

“Tonight you will kill two good men, my friends.”Ben Quilty, artist and friend to Chan and Sukumaran

“Our sons, our brothers. In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others.” Joint statement from the families of Chan and Sukumaran

“In the last 48 to 72 hours or so, it seems Indonesia seemingly wanted to inflict the maximum hurt. I think that reflects a deep-seated problem in the relationship which we will see play out over quite a while.”Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

“This is about our legal sovereignty.”Indonesian President Joko Widodo

“I’m not spiritual but I know where I’m going, man.”Sukumaran’s last words to friend Matius Arif Mirdjaja

“Fear not, you can kill the body, but you cannot kill the soul.”Mr Chan to Matius Arif Mirdjaja, who credited the Australian with turning his life around

“Last bit of dignity denied.”Michael Chan, Andrew’s brother, after the prisoners were initially told they could not be accompanied by their spiritual counsellor

“As a life-long opponent of capital punishment, the truth is it achieves nothing but the further destruction of life.”Former prime minister Kevin Rudd

“The people of Indonesia deserve better.”Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N’ Roses

“Shattered by executions in Indonesia, despite global calls for clemency … The death penalty is cruel, barbaric, inhumane and has no place in the world.”Richard Branson, businessman and founder of Virgin

Follow us on Twitter  Australian Politics – Fairfax

Brisbane weather: State and local governments issue warnings

Heavy rain, strong wind and big swells are on the way.The Queensland government has issued a warning for boaties ahead of an expected low off the state’s southern coast.
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Road Safety and Ports Minister Mark Bailey said the expected rough conditions and high seas would make boating conditions unsafe.

Forecasters predicted heavy rain, strong winds and increasing swells.

“This is especially critical at bar crossings in Noosa, Mooloolaba, the Gold Coast Seaway, Currumbin Creek and Tweed River,” Mr Bailey said on Wednesday.

“Heavy rains developing over western New South Wales today are expected to reach southern Queensland coast tomorrow and Friday, before clearing the coast Saturday.”

Mr Bailey said a deepening trough could develop as an east coast low off the southern Queensland coast.

An east coast low caused devastation in New South Wales last week.

“It’s expected to bring further heavy showers, isolated thunderstorms and rain across areas to the south east of the state on Friday,” Mr Bailey said.

Mr Bailey said boaties should reconsider any planned outings.

“Check the weather before heading out and keep checking while on the water,” he said.

“Let your local volunteer rescue group know when you’re leaving and when you’re due to return.

“Be prepared for sudden unexpected changes and at the first sign of deteriorating weather, please make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket.

“Have an alternative plan to reach shelter if you can’t get back to your usual mooring or boat ramp and ensure you have enough fuel to get there.

“…But most importantly, if in doubt – don’t go out.”

Brisbane City Council issued a reminder to residents to prepare properties for thunderstorms, damaging winds and flash flooding through to Saturday.

“Council is encouraging residents to prepare their backyards by trimming overhanging tree branches and cleaning gutters and downpipes free of leaf litter,” the council said in a statement.

“Residents should also secure any loose objects around their homes, including balconies, and avoid parking their cars under trees or powerlines.”

In the event of heavy rainfall, sandbags will be available from: Zillmere Depot, 33 Jennings Street Zillmere;South Depot, 48 Shamrock Rd, Darra;Balmoral Depot, 9 Redfern Street, Morningside;Herbert Street, Lota; andSES Depot, 66 Wilston Rd, Newmarket.

“In the event of high winds or severe storms, residents are also reminded to stay well clear of any fallen powerlines,” the council said.

“If powerlines have fallen, residents should contact Energex on 13 19 62.”

Stay informed. Like the Brisbane Times Facebook page.

Aurizon stands workers down after storms

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ABOUT 60 train drivers have been stood down without pay and another 140 face uncertain futures because of storm damage on the main north coast rail line through Dungog.

Aurizon (formerly Queensland Rail) said it had stood down affected employees for three weeks until May 18.

The company’s announcement has angered the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, as employees had only been advised of a one-week stand-down, with rosters ‘‘to be advised’’ from Sunday.

Union organiser Steve Wright said the union was trying to get the ‘‘mixed message’’ sorted.

He said the union was also hoping to convince the other main haulier, Pacific National, to keep paying its 140 affected drivers.

Aurizon signalled its intentions to the stock exchange on Wednesday, saying: ‘‘The recent severe weather in NSW has caused damage to track infrastructure north of Newcastle … Accordingly, Aurizon has stood down employees from April 26 and May 18 at the earliest.’’ AAP

Australia’s largest rail freight operator Aurizon has stood down some workers because of last week’s NSW storms has closed some rail lines.

The storms had damaged track infrastructure north of Newcastle resulting in closures in various locations, the company said on Wednesday.

‘‘All intermodal services between Sydney and Brisbane have been stopped indefinitely. Accordingly, Aurizon has stood down employees from 26th April until 18th May at the earliest,’’Aurizon said in a statement.

The severe weather has also contributed to a nine per cent decline in general freight volumes to 9.8 million tonnes for the March quarter.

Growth is now expected to be marginal for the year to June 30.

But Aurizon has reaffirmed its coal haulage expectations and increased its iron ore guidance as it continues to haul large volumes despite weak commodity prices.

Full-year guidance for coal has been retained at between 210 and 220 million tonnes after March quarter volumes were up two per cent on a year ago at 49.6 million tonnes.

Iron ore guidance was increased to 25 million tonnes from 23 million tonnes.