An Australian news roundup

No food panic in the Australian government

As he completed a charity bike ride raising more than $300,000 for diabetes research, the federal Minister for Health, Tony Abbott, ruled out a ban on junk food ads on children's television. The rate of diabetes, mostly caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, is soaring in line with children's obesity.

However, Mr Abbott said children's eating habits were an issue for parents and schools, not government nor the advertising industry. "The only person responsible for what goes into my mouth is me, and the only people who are responsible for what goes into kids' mouths are the parents. "What we really need is more responsible dietary behaviour from parents, from individuals and school canteens. I won't at this point in time, or I suspect down the track, be demanding that they ban ads."

Mr Abbott was among more than 80 cyclists who rode from Brisbane to Sydney to raise money for a diabetes research laboratory at the Westmead Millennium Institute.

The Greens yesterday released the findings of a survey showing that teenagers who watch a lot of television ads are not only more likely to eat more junk food but are less likely to favour healthy food. "It is time for [Abbott] to admit what everyone else has known for years: junk food advertisements work and we need to protect children from them," the Greens leader, Bob Brown, said.


Kid wins fight with shark

What began with an uncomfortable tug on his left foot while out surfing ended last night with a surgeon removing the tip of a shark tooth from his big toe. Luke Cook, a 15-year-old from Caves Beach, was bitten by an unidentified shark as he paddled through whitewater at a surf break known as the Cowrie Hole between Newcastle and Nobbys beaches at 1.30pm yesterday. Showing incredible composure, the budding soccer star said he stunned the shark into releasing its grip by punching it on the nose. "I could feel my foot inside its mouth, his whole mouth was around my foot, and I just knew it was some sort of shark," Luke said from his bed in John Hunter Hospital yesterday. "Then I hit it and it let go and I didn't see anything."

Bleeding profusely from a couple of deep gashes, the Belmont Christian College student said he paddled the 40 metres back to shore "thinking he may be coming back", before using a sock to stem the blood. "I just thought out what I had to do," he said.

The fact his injuries were relatively minor came as a huge relief to the gifted soccer player, who is due to travel to Italy in September as part of training squad visiting soccer giants AC Milan and Juventus. Luke's father, Graham, said his first thought on hearing of the shark attack was that his son might lose his foot. "It was a deep shock but when I saw him it was relief," he said. A surgeon, Dr Matthew Carroll, said the tooth fragment embedded in Luke's foot needed to be removed to avoid infection. Water police yesterday patrolled the attack zone as a precaution, although no beaches were closed.

More here

No porn for Tasmania!

For those who are not aware of it, Tasmania has a considerable reputation for incest

Tasmania is stepping up the campaign against internet porn, launching the first statewide trial of a filter system aimed at protecting children. The trial was sought by the Liberal senator Guy Barnett, who has challenged industry and official claims that a community-wide filtering system was unfeasible. Last year, Senator Barnett sent a letter to the Prime Minister, John Howard, signed by 62 Coalition senators, in which he appealed for a national system to make it easier for families to block internet porn and excessive violence. The Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, last month rejected a Labor demand for a mandatory system-wide filter, saying it would slow the internet for every user.

However, Senator Barnett has won the backing of two internet filter companies, which have agreed to undertake a free trial open to all Tasmanian households in the hope of securing nationwide business. One of the companies, Internet Sheriff Technology, already provides filtering services to the NSW Department of Education. The three-month trial is due to begin in the coming months.


Melbourne men win Italian Parliament seats

Two Melbourne men have been elected to the Italian Parliament. It is the first time Italians living overseas have been allowed to vote and stand for election. Nino Randazzo, who will represent Italians in Oceania and Africa in the Senate, says he is honoured to have won the seat for the centre-left party. Mr Randazzo, 73, says the previous Government led by Silvio Berlusconi has damaged Italy's international reputation, and he wants to help improve its image. "Italians abroad have felt humiliated by some of the actions and some of the policies of the Berlusconi Government," he said. "Italy was a great economic power only 20 years ago and is now on the bottom rank of the industrialised countries of the world."

The other Melbourne man to have secured a seat is Marco Fedi [Above].

Source. Background here

Ghost ship to be sunk in Coral Sea

Salvage authorities will today start stripping down a ghost ship found floating in the Gulf of Carpentaria last month. The 80-metre boat will be sunk in the Coral Sea off the north coast of Queensland in a few days. Tracy Jiggins, from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, says an investigation has failed to shed any light on where the abandoned boat came from. "We actually have a Cairns company on site at the moment," she said. "They are cleaning the vessels and making sure that all the bits and pieces that might come off once it's scuttled have been removed from the vessel to ensure there's no damage to the environment or any hazards to navigation in the area."



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