Why alleged Home And Away catfish banned from all social media


A Melbourne woman previously convicted of pretending to be Home And Away star Lincoln Lewis to seduce and viciously troll victims will be put in jail if she uses social media.

Lydia Abdelmalek, who has been hit with fresh stalking charges, was granted bail in Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Monday on conditions including that she doesn’t touch social apps.

Magistrate Meagan Keogh ordered Ms Abdelmalek not to use platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp “under her own name or any assumed identities” while granting bail.

Ms Abdelmalek is facing six charges including stalking, sending menacing messages, and disobeying bail conditions between May 2020 and April 2021.

She is accused of forming an “obsession” with a woman who worked in a store and repeatedly harassing her online using fake accounts.

The woman was in a relationship with a married man and Ms Abdelmalek is accused of also harassing him — with a profile that had a display picture of the man’s own family.

She used fake accounts to post his image onto Facebook community groups saying he had been seen abusing young women, was “creepy”, and “looked like a druggo”.

Her victim was left “anxious and overwhelmed”, police alleged in a summary filed in court.

“She has expressed her concerns for Abdelmalek’s obsession with her,” it reads.

“She felt anxious and scared of Abdelmalek’s capacity to continually stalk her and the man.”

The court was told Ms Abdelmalek was on bail during this period of alleged creepy criminal behaviour, after appealing her previous stalking convictions.

A convicted person can be allowed into the community during the appeal process if bail is granted by the appeal court.

The 31-year-old was previously convicted in June 2019 on six counts of stalking after police accused her of making false social media profiles including of TV heart-throb Lewis.

She used the profiles over months to trick women into thinking they were dating the men she pretended to be, police said.

She sent cruel messages, using fake accounts to troll the women with barrages of messages calling them “slut” and saying things like, “when are you going to kill yourself”, police said.

She was convicted of distributing explicit photos of one of her targets to the woman’s family.

One of the women later committed suicide.

Ms Abdelmalek is appealing these convictions with the matter underway in the County Court.

In court on Monday, prosecutor Luke Devlin said the charges currently against her were of “exactly the same nature” as her alleged impersonation of Lewis and other men.

“What this applicant does is she befriends people, she gets into a relationship with them,” he said.

“(The victims) are exceptionally embarrassed that they were duped into getting into a relationship.

“The fact that she’s on appeal bail has done nothing to prevent her from engaging in this course of conduct.

“She has created two false accounts on Facebook, in exactly the same format as the previous case.

“No bail conditions can assist with the unacceptable risk of this applicant.”

Ms Abdelmalek lawyer Sam Norton argued the charges against her were “demonstrably false” and that conversations between Ms Abdelmalek and the new alleged victim had been edited to obscure the “true nature of the relationship between the two”.

“There are very, very substantial problems with the prosecution case,” he said.

He said Ms Abdelmalek was undergoing psychological treatment, was the sole carer for her parents, and would be unlikely to be jailed for a lengthy period even if found guilty of the new charges.

Magistrate Keogh said bail conditions would manage the risk of her committing more crimes while on bail.

“There are prospects of you potentially going down this path and engaging in this type of behaviour with other people,” she said to Ms Abdelmalek.

“But I do think those risks can be managed.

“I am going to grant you bail today.”

Ms Abdelmalek will next appear in court on August 9.



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Jason Francis Sims pleads guilty to sick acts with 15yo in residential care


A 48-year-old Melbourne crane operator began a sick sexual relationship with a vulnerable 15-year-old and filmed the explicit acts for police to find, a court has heard.

Jason Francis Sims pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria on Monday to five charges including supplying drugs to a child and sexually penetrating a child under 16.

He met the girl on dating app Skout, according to a police summary tendered to the court.

She told him she was living in a Department of Health and Human Services residential care unit for young people who have experienced trauma.

They first matched online in May last year and four days later Sims invited her to a motel room.

“She informed Jason Sims that she was 15 years old so they would have to keep their activities a secret and that her age was just a number to her,” the summary read.

She snuck out of her unit to meet Sims in the motel room where he supplied her with meth and took explicit photos of her.

They continued exchanging explicit messages and Sims taught her how to “get a better hit from the meth”, the court heard.

About a week after the motel room horror he ordered an Uber to pick her up and bring her to his house, where he gave her more meth and filmed their explicit acts.

He was caught out when the girl left her phone charging at the care unit and another person saw the distressing videos.

The quick-thinking good Samaritan found Sims’ address by going through the victim’s rideshare app history, and took everything they had found to police.

After he was arrested Sims claimed to police he couldn’t remember doing what was portrayed in the videos, or receiving the message informing him the girl was 15.

Police found meth in the kitchen and GHB in the bedroom, which Sims tried to pin on his 15-year-old victim, claiming she had brought the drugs to his house.

He will be sentenced at a later date.



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AstraZeneca vaccine risks for over-50s eligible to get the jab


From today, Australians aged 50 or older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine but many are worried about getting the jab.

More than two million vaccine doses have already been given in Australia so far but concerns have been raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent weeks due to rare cases of life-threatening blood clots.

A recent Guardian Essential poll found willingness to get vaccinated had dropped from 60 to 55 per cent among those aged over 50, and about 39 per cent said they didn’t want to take the AstraZeneca jab.

Health authorities and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose mother has been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, have said the vaccine is safe and the benefits outweigh the risks for those aged over 50.

“The risk benefit for over-50s is vastly in favour of being vaccinated,” Health Department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy told reporters on April 22.

Over-50s will be able to get vaccinated through GP respiratory clinics and state and territory vaccination sites from today, with normal GP clinics able to offer the jab from May 17.

In a piece for The Conversation, three experts including Australian National University epidemiologist Meru Sheel outlined how safe and effective the vaccine is, using clinical trial data and information from around 136 countries using the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?

The experts note that clinical trial as well as real-world data show that the AstraZeneca has a “good safety profile” that is similar to other vaccines used in Australia.

There are some common side effects but these are mostly mild to moderate including reactions at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle pain.

About 22 per cent of people missed a day or more of work or studies due to feeling unwell but less than 2 per cent needed to see a doctor.

RELATED: AstraZeneca vaccine to be avoided for under-50s

How likely are you to get blood clots?

The experts note that reactions to the AstraZeneca vaccine have been very rare and this includes thrombocytopenia syndrome, which is when blood clots and low levels of platelets occur between four and 28 days after the jab. About 20 to 25 per cent of people who develop these clots die.

However, only six people in every million who get the jab develop the condition. It tends to be more common in people under 50.

“In Australia, there have been six cases of this type of blood clotting: one person in their 30s, four in their 40s, and one in their 80s. Of these, a person in their 40s has died from it,” the article notes.

Looking at the small amount of data available so far gained from Victoria’s second wave in July 2020, Australians are 10 times more likely to get severely ill or hospitalised from getting COVID-19, than to get a blood clot from the vaccine.

The risk of blood clots for people aged 50-59 years old is about 0.4 per 100,000. For those aged between 60-69, it is 0.2 per 100,000.

However, the risk of getting severely ill from the coronavirus, or of being hospitalised in intensive care, is much higher.

For those aged between 50-59, the risk is about 6.5 per 100,000 (compared to 0.4 per 100,000 for blood clots). For those aged 60-69, it is 7 per 100,000 (compared to 0.2 per 100,000 for blood clots).

Clinical trials found there were 81 per cent fewer COVID-19 cases in vaccinated people than in unvaccinated ones.

“No one who got the vaccine was hospitalised due to COVID-19,” the article notes.

The authors say it is safe to assume the vaccine is at least 80 per cent effective in preventing severe COVID-19 in people aged over 50.

It is also about 70 per cent effective against the B.1.1.7 strain (the more easily spread UK variant).

But we don’t have any outbreaks

While Australia has almost no cases of COVID-19 at the moment, the experts note this could change very quickly if there are new outbreaks.

There is no alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine for most people over 50 as more shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will not be available until the last quarter of this year.

“So balancing the risks and benefits of the vaccine, is extremely challenging,” the authors note.

“People may not perceive their risk of COVID-19 as high enough to warrant vaccination and are preferring to wait, perhaps six months or more until other vaccines are available.

“However, the potential benefits of the vaccine go far beyond what we’ve already mentioned.

“Vaccination will contribute to the prevention of long COVID-19 (symptoms that linger for months) as well as increased ability to move around freely in society, including being able to attend large events.

“Vaccination will help us avoid lockdowns or school closures, allow us to travel overseas and return to normal life.”

Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told ABC she thought people would relax about getting the vaccine once others they knew had got it.

“I think as more people take up the vaccine, I think other people will then think, ‘Yeah, look, there are a lot of benefits from this. My friends are fine. I’m OK with this.’

“So, I think progressively with time people will start to relax more and will probably stop chasing every single case that might or might not be related to some sort of reaction.”





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air quality poor as flights, ferries, motorway stall


Several ferry services were temporarily cancelled, a flight turned around mid-air and outdoor workers were encouraged to drop the tools, as a blanket of smoke haze wreaked havoc in Sydney.

Passengers on-board a Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Sydney were told the weather was not suitable to land in the Harbour City on all runways.

The conditions and a lack of fuel forced the plane to turn back around to Melbourne after it travelled as far as Canberra.

The smoke haze came after NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) used a break in the weather to carry out hazard reduction burns.

Controlled burns have taken place on the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Sutherland Shire.

Department of Primary Industries has issued a statement on Monday morning classifying the air quality as “poor”.

It caused the F3 Parramatta River, F4 Pyrmont Bay and F8 Cockatoo Island ferries to stop running temporarily.

“Make alternative travel arrangements and consider catching a train or regular bus instead,” Sydney Ferries posted on Twitter.

However, the services were restored just before 10am.

The smoke is expected to clear later on Monday morning, but it could hang around in Sydney’s western suburbs longer.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned that road conditions will be dangerous, and motorists are advised to take extreme care.

“Fog developed in the western suburbs, and it’s currently making its way east and moving over the eastern suburbs, so expecting driving conditions to be a little bit hazardous,” meteorologist James Taylor said.

“When we get cool air and clear sky, it‘s good for trapping smoke down close to the surface, it’s also very good conditions for fog formation.”

The RFS said in a statement it had postponed some controlled burning operations while the smoke cleared.

“Light winds and an overnight inversion has resulted in smoke settling in low-lying residential areas. Smoke is forecast to then begin to lift and clear across the morning as the day begins to warm up,” it said.

“Strategies have been put in place to reduce the impact of smoke on the community, including the postponement of a number of planned burns and a reduction in area burnt for others.

“Hazard reduction burning is strategically planned to minimise the potential impact of smoke on public health; however, some members of the community may need to take action to mitigate the risks of smoke from hazard reduction burning by planning ahead.”

The Electrical Trades Union urged caution for its members working on the tools.

In a statement, ETU NSW secretary Allen Hicks said workers had rights to stop work if the air quality was unsafe.

“In large swathes of Sydney today, air quality is a threat to the health of people working outdoors. Those workers need to know if their employer can’t protect them from smoke exposure they have the right to stop work,” he said.

“Smoke from hazard reduction burns can badly irritate the eyes and throat. Bushfire smoke also contains particles which can affect lung health, particularly for people who already suffer from conditions such as asthma or emphysema.

“These particles can place extra stress on the heart – leading to increased risk of heart attack. “We have informed our members that they should protect their health and stop work if they are concerned about exposure to hazard reduction smoke in their workplace. We are actively monitoring this situation.”



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Victorians over 50 eligible for AstraZeneca mass hubs


Every Victorian over the age of 50 will be able to get a COVID-19 jab from Monday as the state government opens a raft of vaccination hubs to support its six high-volume centres.

The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout for over-50s will be ramped up this week with a seventh high-volume vaccination centre opening on Tuesday at the Cranbourne Turf Club.

That will bolster the existing group of walk-in centres – the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the former Ford Factory, the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Sunshine Hospital and Mercure Ballarat.

The government will also open 15 vaccination centres at sites across the state from Monday, including at both city and country hospitals , bringing the total number of vaccine hubs in Victoria to 22.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said more vaccination centres would be unveiled in coming weeks.

“The best thing we can all do to support Victoria’s recovery from COVID-19 is to take the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as we can – and the Victorian government is making it easier to do just that,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to have 22 sites open to the eligible public by Monday, and there’ll be more to come.

“Initially, we are asking Victorians to phone up and book if you aren’t headed to a high-volume vaccination centre.

“We’re proud to work with GPs to support the commonwealth’s vaccination program any way we can.”

Several of the open access centres will also offer a pathway to the Pfizer vaccine for those eligible.

The Pfizer vaccine supply is limited and prioritised for eligible people under the age of 50 in the phase 1a and 1b of the commonwealth’s vaccination program.

Epidemiologist Hassan Vally, from Latrobe University, said if those eligible for the AstraZeneca had concerns about the risk of “extremely rare” blood clotting, they should discuss it with their doctor.

“All questions regarding how the vaccine may impact on your health should involve a discussion with your GP,” she said.

“It needs to be understood that since there are so few cases of this clotting disorder, we do not have a complete understanding of it and what the risk factors are.”

VACCINATION CENTRES OPEN TO THE ELIGIBLE PUBLIC FROM MONDAY:

• Bendigo Hospital

• Latrobe Regional Hospital – Traralgon Racecourse

• Albury Wodonga Health – Wodonga Community vaccination clinic

• GV Health – Shepparton Showgrounds, McIntosh Centre

• Eastern Health – Box Hill

• Eastern Health – Ringwood East Community Clinic*

• Northern Health – Epping

• Monash Health – Monash Medical Centre*

• Monash Health – Dandenong*

• Monash Health – Kingston*

• Monash Health – Moorabbin*

• St John of God Hospital – Berwick*

• Peninsula Health – Rosebud Hospital*

• Peninsula Health – Frankston*

• Austin Health – Olivia Newton John Centre*

*phone bookings only initially, no walk ins



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Search for missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay in Wonnangatta


The story of missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay has sparked so many questions, but delivered so few answers.

After almost 14 months of searching, the mystery of what happened deep in the wilderness between the popular tourist peaks of Mount Hotham and Mount Buller continues to baffle detectives.

Mr Hill, 74, and Ms Clay, 73, vanished on March 20 last year during a camping trip in the remote East Gippsland beauty spot of Wonnangatta, 350km east of Melbourne.

Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 before collecting Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.

The friends then travelled via Licola, spending one night at Howitt High Plains before heading into Wonnangatta Valley on March 20.

It’s so remote you can only access the valley with a four-wheel drive. In the winter months, some of the roads are even closed, completely.

Mr Hill was last heard from the next day via HF radio, stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps.

Ms Clay told friends she was heading away and was expecting to return home on March 28 or 29.

Mr Hill was an experienced bushman who had been camping alone with his car in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11 and 13.

Ms Clay was a former state president and member of the Country Women’s Association.

Previous reports suggested the pair were high school sweethearts, and Mr Hill’s wife was not aware Ms Clay was joining him on the camping trip.

Investigators were told the pair were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.

A week into searching the area and detectives found their campsite burnt out off the Dry River Creek Track, north of Billabong in the Wonnangatta Valley.

A mobile phone attached to a charger was found among the charred mess, leading police to believe it may have caused the blaze.

Detectives found no evidence of an accelerant involved in the fire, which destroyed their tent, table and camping chairs and singed Mr Hill’s Toyota LandCruiser.

But the car was still drivable and the keys left inside.

Police then received reports in late May of three sightings of an “older person or older couple” in the region.

An older woman was spotted at Black Snake Creek who was waiting for other campers to finish using a long-drop toilet.

An older couple was also seen driving out from Blake Snake Creek Hut on March 22, with a woman wearing lipstick and “looking out of place”.

An older couple was also seen near the Eaglevale River crossing and campsite on March 22.

Police have been unable to establish whether they were Mr Hill or Ms Clay.

The search went cold for almost a year until police reignited its appeal to the public for vital clues, unveiling information about a single car that remained untraced in the investigation on March 5, 2021.

Investigators from the missing persons squad revealed they were looking for a white dual-cab ute of unknown make and model in the vicinity at the time Mr Hill and Ms Clay went missing.

“After almost 12 months of meticulous checks, as of this afternoon, police have been able to identify all vehicles seen in the area near Russell and Carol’s campsite on Thursday, 20 March, 2020, with the exception of a single car,” a Victoria Police statement said.

Just days later a drone believed to have been Mr Hill’s was found, sparking hope it could hold the key to finally unravelling the mysterious disappearance.

During initial investigations police released a photo of Mr Hill holding a DJI Mavic drone he bought before going camping.

But the drone – which was handed in to the East Gippsland Police station early March after it was found in the search area – was not the one belonging to Mr Hill.

The investigation deepened on April 14 as police moved their search 80km northwest to the Mount Hotham area, marking the first time the search had strayed from Wonnangatta.

Police were combing through “some parts of the bush never walked on by humans before” just off the Great Alpine Road in Mount Hotham.

And then a breakthrough, when detectives emerged from thick shrub with a shovel wrapped inside a clear plastic bag.

A second shovel was found shortly after.

The investigation in this new search zone was then called off the next day as the evidence was sent off to Melbourne, where they are still being forensically examined by specialist police.

And in the latest turn in the case, detectives this week redirected the search back to the campgrounds from which Mr Hill and Ms Clay first vanished.

Police said special focus would turn to the areas along the Dargo High Plains Road, Cynthia Range Track, Herne Spur Track and the Wonnangatta Track “as a result of information obtained from previous searches”.

Missing Persons Squad detective Acting Inspector Tony Combridge has dropped the biggest hint so far that the pair met with foul play, saying police believed “somebody else is involved” in the disappearance.

“I don’t think anything’s off the table but we look at what’s in front of us and the likely scenario is that somebody else is involved,” Detective Acting Inspector Combridge said moments after the discovery of the two shovels in Mount Hotham.

“We could be one phone call away. That’s the position we hold … from this matter being resolved.”

Anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area about the time Mr Hill and Ms Clay went missing on March 20 – including campers, day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders – regardless of whether they saw or heard anything, are being urged to come forward.

Detectives were also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on March 19 or 20, and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between March 20 and 24.

Detectives also established Mr Hill was camping alone with his LandCruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11 and 13, 2020.

Police were also keen to speak to anyone who was in that area on those dates.

Anyone who sees Mr Hill or Ms Clay should phone triple-0 immediately. Anyone with any other information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

anthony.piovesan@news.com.au



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Melbourne artist Nathan McCarron finds TikTok fame with Will Smith Fresh Prince drawing


Nathan McCarron went viral on social media after sharing his portrait work of famous musicians, artists and celebrities.

But it was one TikTok post in particular that launched him into fame, kicking off what was once just a hobby, into a full-blown business.

The 28-year-old had just graduated from acting school in Melbourne when the COVID pandemic hit, forcing him to feed his passion for creativity in a different way, as the arts and entertainment industry copped a massive blow.

It was during this time he experimented more with his love of pencil art, curating entertaining TikTok videos on drawings of celebrities.

RELATED: Reason for star’s $1.4m spending spree

“I was drawing a bit, but it wasn’t a business or anything,” Mr McCarron told news.com.au.

“Then through COVID I joined TikTok and once I started posting some of my drawings, it just blew up so quickly.”

It was a post of Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that really got people talking, with the video attracting more than 6.4 million views alone.

“That post bumped my followers by half a million or something crazy like that,” Nathan said.

“Normally I start with a blank piece of paper and begin drawing a celebrity that people recognise, as that way they go through the process with me, even though it takes about two days (for a 30 second video).”

RELATED: Mother and son land $4m Coles deal

However, for his Will Smith post, the aspiring actor decided to take a risk by trying something a little different.

“This time I created a 40 second rap to go along with it to the tune of the Fresh Prince theme song,” he said.

“I guess people liked I was double dipping in entertainment.”

Ironically, Nathan dropped out of art class in Year 8 to follow his passion for acting and drama.

RELATED: Willow Smith reveals she’s polyamorous

After graduating from high school, he moved to Melbourne from Tasmania, in search of work as an actor, before eventually being accepted to study at the Film & Television Studio International.

On the side, he was always sketching and perfecting his pencil art, not realising it would eventually see him become a viral sensation.

Following the positive feedback on his Will Smith drawing, Nathan decided to take a similar approach with an Eminem drawing, rapping to one of his songs to accompany the video.

It too also attracted millions of views.

The 28-year-old then found himself inundated with private messages from followers asking if he could draw their favourite celebrity and how they could buy his work.

Since December, Nathan has gone on to make thousands of dollars by selling prints of his drawings which range from $30 and $100, depending on size.

His work has also managed to attract the likes of Hollywood stars including Whoopi Goldberg.

“She sent me a private message on Twitter thanking me, and then did it publicly. I was so shocked because I love drawing my idols and for her to message me was just crazy.”

Nathan’s talents also extend to drawing landscapes, buildings and portraits of animals with a cut of his profits going to the World Wildlife Fund since having partnered with the not-for-profit organisation.

The pencil artist also now works with companies like Universal Music Group to draw their recording artists.

He said his art has given him contacts that will hopefully help him pursue his dream of acting.



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Beijing warns Canberra not to get ‘burned’


China has accused Australian politicians of colluding with ‘terrorists’ in Xinjiang and warned Canberra it will get “burned” if it continues to back Uyghur activists.

The comments are the latest salvo in a war-of-words over the region, where human rights groups warn the Muslim Uyghur minority face horrific abuses.

Chinese media has seized on an article, published by fringe political group the Australian Citizens Party, criticising local politicians’ support for the East Turkistan Australian Association (ETAA), a Uyghur advocacy group.

The article claimed the ETAA supported terror groups in Xinjiang.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said this showed Uyghur activists were given a “free pass” in Australia because they criticised China.

RELATED: Payne: ‘Credible reports’ Uyghur abuse despite bizarre press conference

“It exposed the separatist, terrorist and extremist nature of (the) Xinjiang independence organisation in Australia and the despicable collusion of anti-China Australian politicians with terrorist organisations for selfish gains,” he said.

“As some Western media are awash with lies and smears targeting Xinjiang, such objective and rational voices shows that justice will eventually prevail.”

The article singled out assistant Defence Minister Andrew Hastie and independent Senator Rex Patrick for supporting the ETAA.

Senator Patrick said it was “particularly telling” Chinese media had quoted misinformation from the ACP.

“Strange bedfellows at first glance, but not so strange when you think about it,” he said.

The ETAA refers to Xinjiang as ‘East Turkistan’ in a move that has angered China.

Senator Patrick stressed he had been careful not to follow suit because it is “not immediately helpful” in stopping the abuse of Uyghurs.

“The focus of my attention has been to support those members of the Uyghur community in Adelaide and across Australia whose families are suffering the Chinese Communist Party directed genocide and oppression in Xinjiang,” he said.

The ETAA website declares Uyghurs are “currently under the brutal occupation of the Chinese Communist Government” in Xinjiang.

It calls for Australia to follow its Five Eyes allies in declaring a genocide is underway in Xinjiang.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has resisted going that far, but said in March there were “credible reports of the systematic abuse and torture” of Uyghur women in the region.

Beijing claims it is curbing a terrorist insurgency and Mr Weng warned Australia could be “burned” if it continued to support Uyghur groups.

“We urge certain Australian politicians not to stand on the wrong side of history and to stop endorsing anti-China separatist activities and terrorist organisations to avoid getting burned itself,” he said.

NCA NewsWire has reached out to the ETAA for comment.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra invited Australian journalists to an extraordinary two-hour press conference in April, where officials denied widespread reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang.

In a video titled ‘Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land’, Uyghurs were filmed denying they had been persecuted in the region.

It comes a week after Defence Minister Peter Dutton warned a conflict over Taiwan could not be discounted, and Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo claimed the “drums of war” were beating in the region.



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Business travel last to rebound.


A former Qantas executive has revealed the order in which he believes different types of air passengers will get back to travelling internationally on a regular basis.

And one group of avid travellers could be waiting for up to a year longer before they begin hopping around the globe again. That could be as late as 2023, which is bad news for airlines.

Simon Hickey spent 11 years in senior positions in the national carrier including running Qantas’ international division.

He said he expected international travel to “rebound strongly” when borders finally reopened.

Now chief executive officer of the under-construction Western Sydney Airport, Mr Hickey defended the $7 billion project and said despite the huge reduction in air travel due to the pandemic he still expected it to become “Australia’s largest gateway airport”.

RELATED: Qantas hints at our next four bubbles

Family reunion market first to fly international

Currently, international air travel into and out of Australia is extremely limited. The only international air routes with no restrictions are those to and from New Zealand.

Qantas had hoped international flights could restart from late October. However, the slow rollout of vaccines in could throw a spanner in the works of that plan.

Aviation industry group the International Air Transport Association had initially warned it could take until 2024 to get back to 2019 type levels of air travel. It’s now brought that forecast forward but only if vaccination programs are successful in reopening borders.

At a panel discussion at Thursday’s SMH NSW Infrastructure Summit, Mr Hickey said people were itching to get back in the air.

“Aviation will rebound and will rebound quite strongly,” he told the summit.

Mr Hickey laid out the order in which he expected the leisure, business and family reunion markets to begin flying again.

“When it’s safe to travel again, the very first part of the market that will move is the 25 per cent, that is the family reunion market.

“That will come back very strongly. People have been separated from families in a very stressful time and are desperate to get back on flights.”

The next people to rush to the airport will be leisure travellers, he said. “People will feel like they’ve explored Australia and that’s been great but it’s time to explore the world.

“Everybody has an international destination that they want to get to first.”

RELATED: Qantas says there’s no reason for borders to stay closed

Business people remain grounded

But there’s one group that will likely be waiting far longer to get back in the air. Unfortunately for airlines, it’s the highest spending passengers.

“Business travellers will probably be about a year behind everyone else,” said Mr Hickey.

“But I think that they will come.”

If international borders now don’t open until 2022 that means it could be 2023 until business people are jetting off en masse to Singapore, London and Los Angeles.

Mr Hickey said that other world jolts, such as 9/11, SARS and the global financial crisis, had all led to a lengthy periods of depressed business travel. Nonetheless, it eventually picked back up.

“It’s a very resilient market. Ultimately, why people are travelling is because they’re building relationships, and they need to see things face-to-face.

“We will get back to that. Zoom is a great piece of technology … but it won’t replace human connectedness.”

Western Sydney Airport Australia’s ‘gateway’

The pandemic has had huge impacts on airports. London’s Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest, has been operating out of just two of its four terminals for more than year. In other cities, terminal expansion projects have been scrapped due to fears passenger numbers will take years to return to their previous level.

But Mr Hickey said Western Sydney’s new airport, south of Penrith and close to the Blue Mountains, remained on course.

“We’re building an airport capable of 82 million annual passengers, that the size of Dubai or New York JFK.”

The former airline exec said the fundamentals of the new airport, due to open its first phase in 2026, remained sound.

“Our catchment of Western Sydney is the third largest economy in Australia and has about three million people within one hour of the airport.

“It’s already a vast and significant population and a fast growing with one in 10 Australians. That makes our catchment the third largest in Australia straight away.

“Western Sydney Airport is designed to be Australia’s largest gateway airport in the future.”

Mr Hickey added that the new airport would operate 24/7, unlike Kingsford Smith, which is now Sydney’s only airport. That would open up new connections with global hubs like Dubai as well as allowing overnight flights from Sydney to Southeast Asia.

He also expected some air services that currently operate to Melbourne to shift to Sydney.



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Nadia Bartel flashes abs in skin-tight outfit on Instagram


Nadia Bartel has already made a name for herself as one of the best-dressed celebrities in Australia – and one of her latest looks shared on Instagram are no exception.

The Melbourne businesswoman, who was previously married to Geelong Cats player Jimmy Bartel, posted a selfie on Instagram of her wearing a white two-piece outfit by Australian designer Natalie Rolt.

Nadia posted the photo while on a trip from her native Melbourne to Sydney, where she was shooting a campaign for Spray Aus, the fake tan business she co-owns alongside Bec Judd.

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The influencer showed off her bronzed look for the photo shoot in a video posted to her Instagram stories on Friday morning.

It’s been a busy 12 months for Nadia after her fashion label Henne exploded in popularity last year.

Last December she and sister Michelle Coppolino announced they would be shutting down their online clothing store The Connection (TCN) to focus on Henne.

Nadia told The House of Wellness magazine they are now working on bringing the fashion label to a global audience.

“We are so known in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth but I would really love to take the brand overseas,” she said, according to the Herald Sun.

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Nadia told Elle in 2019 Henne was launched after noticing a “gap in the market” for fashion pieces that were “more versatile”.

“We wanted to create non-boring basics that last far beyond the season – and that our customer can then wear in a way that suits both her life and style,” she said.

“When we design, if we don’t see ourselves personally wearing it all the time, then we don’t make it. Every piece is very personal to us.”

The huge success of her brand came after Nadia had to endure a very public split from husband Jimmy, who is also the father of her two sons Ashton and Henley.

The couple had been together since meeting at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2008 and got engaged in 2012.

The end of their marriage in August 2019 came amid speculation about a trip Jimmy had made to London earlier that year – where his now girlfriend Lauren Mand had been living at the time.

During a tearful TV appearance shortly after news broke of their break-up, Nadia admitted that it had been a “tough time” for her.

“It’s been a tough time personally for me recently,” she said. “It’s just so painful.”



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