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Taxi assistance package: Laws being debated in Queensland parliament

A bill that will allow compensation to taxi licence holders is being debated in Queensland. Photo: SuppliedMotorists will face heftier fines for stopping in taxi zones under new measures designed to shield the taxi industry from the rise of Uber.

Debate has begun on the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, which features a $100 million taxi and limousine assistance package.

Uber became legal in Queensland from September 5, with the government’s assistance package for taxis and limos designed to help ease the strain on the traditional industry.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he would urgently move to increase the fine for illegally stopping in a taxi zone from $48 to $243.

“This change builds on recent increases to fines for related offences of soliciting and touting, and providing an unlicensed taxi service and will support effective enforcement of illegal activity by ride-booking services,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

The Transport and Utilities Committee made 30 recommendations, including increasing the $100 million assistance package and reviewing the limit of two licences per holder for assistance payments.

The payments would include $20,000 per taxi licence and $10,000 per limo licence.

Mr Hinchliffe said the total funding for the assistance package of $100 million would not increase as it “would be at the taxpayers’ expense”.

The two licence cap for taxis would also not be lifted.

But Mr Hinchliffe said all ownership structures would be eligible for the payments, including individuals, trusts, companies and superannuation funds.

Mr Hinchliffe said payments would be made to industry as soon as possible, with invitations expected to be sent to eligible taxi and limo holders in December.

Opposition Transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the bill was “flawed and botched” and described it as “kick in the guts” to taxi and limo operators.

“The LNP also welcomes competition but there must be fair compensation and a fair and level playing field for the personalised transport industry,” Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell said it was unfair to cap compensation on two licences per holder.

Debate on the bill continues on Thursday afternoon.

The government will introduce a second stage of industry reforms with legislation to be implemented from August 2017.

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Queensland storms: south-east hit with more wild weather as heatwave looms

The Brisbane CBD copped a soaking when a storm hit south-east Queensland on Wednesday. Photo: Jorge BrancoHailstones the size of tennis balls have lashed the Sunshine Coast hinterland, as severe thunderstorms batter south-east Queensland.

Imbil and Peachester recieved the brunt of the hail, while parts of the Gold Coast including Mermaid Beach dealt with a deluge of smaller hailstones.

Senior meteorologist Rick Threlfall said the storm cell over the hinterland was still “very dangerous”, and could even continue north as far as Fraser Island.

“We’re still quite concerned about that cell,” he said.

Meantime the storms further south have eased, and Mr Threlfall said there’s a “pretty small” risk of Brisbane being hit with the wild weather.


More wild weather is due to hit south-east Queensland, with a severe storm warnings issued on Thursday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology said very dangerous thunderstorms were detected near Woodford and Mount Mee heading north east, and are forecast to hit the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the Sunshine Coast before 4.30pm.

Other severe thunderstorms were detected in the Southern Downs, and were tracking towards Ipswich and Scenic Rim.

The bureau said very large hailstones, damaging wind and heavy rain which could lead to flash flooding are likely.

A more general warning has been issued for the south-east coast and parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt district. #QLD Golf to tennis ball sized hail has been reported from the #Peachester area. These storms are very dangerous.苏州美甲培训/cw6wonUnxG— ABC Emergency (@ABCemergency) December 1, 2016Severe to extreme heatwave conditions over parts of #QLD and #NSW. More info at苏州美甲培训/Yzw75Xu8BT— BOM Australia (@BOM_au) December 1, 2016

Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said Queenslanders needed to “be vigilant” and make sure they were prepared for heatwave conditions over the coming weekend.

“Heat related illness can be very, very serious, and it can be potentially life threatening. So what we need to do is look after vulnerable people in particular in our community,” he said.

“Please think about dropping in to see your friends, your neighbours and your family to check that they’re OK.”

Particularly vulnerable are the elderly, pregnant women, young children, the sick and pets, but Queensland Ambulance clinical quality and patient safety director Tony Hucker said everyone needed to make sure they looked after themselves.

“The community can really help us out by just being careful on those really hot days,” he said. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical treatment immediately. Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) December 1, 2016

Mr Hucker said heat related illnesses can “really sneak up on you”.

“Heat related syndromes are really quite insidious, unless you’re watching what you’re doing and watching others, all of a sudden you’re starting to feel very unwell and if you don’t recognise [the symptoms] you can get sick very quickly,” her said.

Symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion could include headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate.

The QAS and all public hospitals have extra staff and crews ready to go in anticipation of an increased workload over the next week.

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Search for true bee-lievers

Honey engineers: Anna Scobie and Kelly Lees,co-founders of Urban Hum, examine one of their newer supers in Mayfield. Pictures: Simone De PeakKelly Lees and Anna Scobie, the co-founders Urban Hum, a Newcastlecommunity-based beekeeping operation, are on a mission. They want more people to appreciate how good bees are for the planet, and they want to do it more of it in Newcastle.

While they began keeping bees for their own veggie gardens seven years ago, they have only been running the small Urban Hum business for two years.

But the business, which sees them tending to 115 hives -most of them in the backyards of enthusiastic beefans throughout Newcastle’s suburbs, has grown to the point where it needs a financial boost just to take care of its current needs.

“We were both avid veggie gardeners and had to hand pollinate our zucchinis and thought that was a bit ridiculous because humans aren’t very good at pollinating zucchinis,” Scobie said. “So we went and did a beekeeping course ourselves. Got one hive, that turned into two hives, then it was a full blown obsession.”

They had more than 70 people respondwhen they did their first call-out for people to host hives ($45 a year will get a host 4 kilograms of honey from the hive on their block and the benefits of a healthy swarm pollinatingflowering plants within a 5-kilometre range of the hive).

Now, Urban Hum has a waiting list of more than 200 people who want to host or buy hives.

We are family: A single colony can have 50,000 to 80,000 bees with only one queen bee. Urban Hum focuses on single-origin honey from each colony.

More urgently, Urban Hum has begun a Kickstarter fund-raising drive to raise $20,000 in pledges to purchase more boxes and hives to service their existing swarms and obtain more extraction equipment.

“We literally don’t have enough boxes to keep the bees happy and healthy, so they need more space,” Lees said. “European honey bees collect a lot of honey. The more boxes you can give them the more honey they can collect.”

Kelly Lees and Anna Scobie of Urban Hum tell why they love bees. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训/U24Xbq9aDJ

— Jimmy (@JimmyKellar) November 28, 2016

Scobie said Urban Hum services about 7.5million bees. A hive will produce 30 to 80 kilograms of honey a year. Every jar of raw honey Urban Hum sells is from a single hive, with the suburb of origin noted. The firm sells through markets, selected retailers and online.

“Each hive is unique, the taste is different,” Lees said. “You are tasting one suburb, one hive. That’s what you miss out on with supermarket honey, it’s all blended.”

Urban Hum isincreasingly askedto remove unwanted hives from difficult places, like chimneys, ceilings or wall cavities. Leessalvages the swarm, settles it down and triesto find a home for it.

Novocastrians arekeen to care for their own hives, so Lees is offeringworkshops and mentoring classes. She willhosta questionsession at Estabar on Sunday, December 4, at 2pm.

End of the peer for ‘amazing’ riverside art exhibition council ‘wouldn’t back’

Artist Bruce Webb, centre, came with friends and relatives to view his and other artists’ work at the the Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition under Citylink freeway at Burnley. Photo: Simon Schluter Freeway of art: the annual Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition, on under the Citylink freeway and beside the Yarra River at Burnley, is to close due to lack of funds. Photo: Simon Schluter

A popular annual art exhibition held under the Citylink freeway is to fold, with organisers blasting an alleged lack of support from the City of Yarra.

Increased security costs and difficulty finding $6000 to run the event mean the 2016 Art at Burnley Harbour, which opened on Thursday and runs until Sunday beside the Yarra River, will be the last.

Robert Lee, president of the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria that runs the free, not for profit event, said he is bitter at its demise.

He said it had supported hundreds of artists since it opened in 2004, and given the public access to affordable art.

He called on fans to view the “wonderful hidden gem” while they still could.

He said aside from grants of $3000 and $3500 in its first two years, Yarra council had rejected subsequent applications for financial aid.

He said the council had declined to place Art at Burnley Harbour flyers at libraries and town halls, and wouldn’t post it on its social media, saying it would only promote council-run, or funded, events.

The volunteer-run exhibition stretches for 300 metres beside the Capital City bicycle trail, and is accessible off Mary Street, Burnley.

Customer Helen Kelly, of Kew, who came early on Thursday to bargain-hunt, said the closure was “awful”.

She said last year she paid $250 for a Graham Duell stone sculpture of a whale’s tail that is now a cherished part of her garden.

“Why buy a print when you can come here and get an original painting?” she said. “It’s amazing art, available to everyone, that’s what’s beautiful about it.”

Artist Emily Levin, of Malvern, said she is “devastated” at the closure, saying selling a piece was an incentive to keep painting. The display was “an outlet to exhibit, to show our talent. It’s therapy for a lot of us, an expression of who we are.”

Artist Bruce Webb, of Eltham, was thrilled that his 1.2m welded steel abstract sculpture Yellow Totem sold for $350, hours after the exhibition opened on Thursday.

Mr Webb, 56, who has two sculptures and two abstract paintings in the exhibition, is getting back in to art after decades running a wedding reception venue and doesn’t presently exhibit in galleries.

Yarra Mayor Amanda Stone said: “We are sad to hear that the Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition will not be continuing”, but said organisers had not applied for a council grant in the past two years.

She said council spent more than $500,000 annually on arts and cultural projects. It would love to support all programs requesting, funding but it was highly competitive.

Cr Stone said community programs not funded by Council can be listed on Yarra’s Community Noticeboard website.

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Victoria’s plea to fix mobile phone black spots gets poor reception from Turnbull

The Andrews government is in a funding stoush over mobile phone black spots. Photo: Louise KennerleyThe Andrews government has been accused of “childish and pathetic” tactics after complaining it is being ripped off under a federal plan to eliminate mobile phone black spots.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday announced a second round of funding under the flagship Mobile Black Spots Program, with $60 million set aside to build and upgrade 266 mobile towers nationwide.

But in an escalating stoush, almost half of the upgrades requested by Victoria have been rejected by the Turnbull government as a “waste of money” providing little or no benefit.

But the latest carve-up – targeting 1400 black spots – has left Victoria fuming and accusing Mr Turnbull of short-changing Australia’s most bushfire prone state.

Out of 266 new and upgraded mobile towers, 32 are in Victoria, about 12 per cent of the total, and less than half the state’s 25 per cent population share.

An assessment by Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley handed to the Commonwealth requested upgrades for 63 areas still suffering from poor coverage.

The submission was backed by a May 2016 state budget decision to set aside $11 million as part of a joint pitch with Telstra and Opus to upgrade the areas of concern.

But the submission appears to have fallen flat, almost eight years after Victoria’s Black Saturday disaster claimed 173 lives.

While Victoria will get funding to upgrade or build 32 towers, Queensland will be given funding for 76, Western Australia 78 and NSW 39.

Victoria remains riddled with black spots, creating risks on high fire-danger days when mobile phones are relied upon to issue warnings and keep track of local residents.

Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis accused a “Sydney-centric” Mr Turnbull of playing political games and ignoring Victorian communities identified as priority areas.

“The Federal government refuses to advise us how these decisions were made and what data was used,” Mr Dalidakis said. “They are simply asking us to trust them, and since Prime Minister Turnbull was elected in July ‘trust’ is not a word he should be using with Victorians.”

But in yet another row, Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash hit back, saying the “whinging” was “childish and pathetic”.

“Rather than thank the Coalition for 32 towers it would never have received under Federal Labor, Victorian Labor chooses to spin new mobile phone coverage into a negative,” Ms Nash said. “The political tactic of screaming ‘Not enough!’ instead of saying ‘Thank you’, is childish and pathetic.”

Ms Nash said the other 31 tower upgrades proposed by Labor were rejected because they were deemed a waste of taxpayers’ money, providing  little or zero benefit in terms of coverage.

As it is, Victoria’s relationship with the Commonwealth has been stretched to breaking point.

The Andrews government has long complained it is being denied a fair share of infrastructure funding. The state was particularly livid following a decision by the Turnbull government to deny it the full payment under the asset recycling scheme following the $9.7 billion Port of Melbourne lease.

The latest stoush also follows a row over the first round of black spot funding, in which Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield refused to change the guidelines to allow Victoria to use federal cash to upgrade phone coverage on V/Line, which can be patchy even in areas with a good signal because of the interference created by the moving train.

An analysis by Fairfax Media shows the seat of Indi – held by influential Independent Cathy McGowan – has been a big winner under the second round of funding, receiving eight out of the 32 planned upgrades.

The federal Labor seat of McEwen, which was badly affected by the Black Saturday disaster, will get three new or upgraded towers, with the remaining 21 in Liberal or National seats.

In a joint statement, Mr Turnbull, Ms Nash and Mr Fifield said the combined impact of the two-funding rounds so far under the program had provided coverage in 4400 of 10,000 black spots identified nationally.

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Seymour offers the international style


A GREATER CHOICE: Seymour College senior students Laura Purvis of Farrell Flat and Millie Hooper of Myrtle Bank enjoy learning at the school.

​Seymour College has a long history of high achievement in girls’ education in South Australia.

Now, in less than two years, Seymour has been authorised to offer a new choice for students commencing in 2017: the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Seymour will continue to offer both the SACE and the IBDP, giving students more options and opportunities depending on their learning preferences.

“While the IBDP represents an exciting new dimension in our curriculum offerings at Seymour, we remain strongly committed to the SACE and recognise that it continues to be an excellent and highly suitable learning pathway for many of our senior students,” said Seymour College principal, Melissa Powell.

This advertising feature is sponsored by the following education providers. Click on the links to learn more:

Prince Alfred CollegeSacred Heart CollegeSeymour CollegeSaint Peter’s CollegetafeSAUniversity of South AustraliaWestminster SchoolWalford Anglican School for Girls“Our extensive and flexible curriculum enables girls to follow their ambition and select subjects that they are not only passionate about, but provide the best platform for their chosen future.”

The IBDP gives students a greater breadth of subjects to choose from.

It fosters in students a love of lifelong learning, enabling them to develop as problem solvers, deep thinkers and inquirers.

These qualities are in keeping with Seymour’s traditions as well as being traits required by universities and employers in the 21st century.Seymour has also been working passionately to introduce the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for its younger students from Foundation to Year 5.

The aim is to be fully authorised by the end of 2017.

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Take a chance to join us at PrincesProviding access to more selectionOffering students more opportunitiesBright idea for future jobsWalford girls take off to Space CamptafeSA’s pathway to professional successAiming high at WestminsterThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲培训.

Is $50 million the Australian Open’s next magic number for 2017?

Number crunching: Prizemoney at the 2017 Australian Open is set to increase and ticket presales for the tournament are “on par” with last year, when a record crowd of 720,363 attended over the fortnight. Photo: Teagan Glenane Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley wants to lead the way in prizemoney offered to players. Photo: Eddie Jim

Winners are grinners at the Australian Open as 2016 runner-up Serena Williams shares a moment with winner Angelique Kerber. Photo: Scott Barbour

Australian Open prizemoney is pushing towards the $50 million barrier, with another substantial increase imminent and only the finer details of the record sum’s distribution still being negotiated by Tennis Australia and player governing bodies the ATP and the WTA.

Unlike the stand-off between the AFL and its players’ association over the terms of the parties’ new collective bargaining agreement, the tennis grand slams and their star attractions have had less difficulty coming to satisfactory terms in recent years.

The threat of strike action in 2012 paved the way for a series of significant prize pool increases at the four majors, starting at Melbourne Park, and this is expected to be another. Tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed that the push to better compensate the more lowly-ranked players in relative terms was also likely to continue at the January 16-29 event.

“We’ve been working with both the WTA and the ATP on the distribution, and once that’s finalised in the next week or so we’ll be able to announce [the prizemoney details],” said Tiley of a process that has again been left as late as possible in order to accommodate currency fluctuations. “You can expect an increase; to what extent we’ll be able to tell you then.”

Tiley reiterated the Open’s commitment to what he called “leading the way” in prizemoney agenda-setting. In 2012, for example, first-round losers in the main draw received $20,000, and the singles champion $2.3 million. This year, participation guaranteed at least $38,500, while the title winner’s purse had risen by almost 48 per cent to $3.4 million.

“We’ve been always the first to respond on player compensation and I personally, as well as our team, believe that paying the players well is really important not only for the event’s future, but also for the sport, and generally it’s lagged behind in the players ranked between 100 and 200,” Tiley said.

“We’ve stepped up by offering more prizemoney in … the qualifying, and the first few rounds. So that’s generally the direction we’ve gone as an event and we’ll continue to go [that way] because we believe there needs to be a larger group of players professionally that make more money.”

In 2013, the year after the possibility of industrial action was flagged, total Australian Open prizemoney soared by 15 per cent to $30 million, and the past three tournaments have been worth $33 million, $40 million and $44 million, respectively. This season, the US Open was again the most lucrative major, with total prizemoney of $62.5 million ($US46.3 million) on current exchange rates, ahead of Wimbledon $55.41 million and the French Open $48.6 million.

Tiley said ticket presales were “on par” with last year, when a record crowd of 720,363 attended over the fortnight. The long-range weather forecast is also encouraging, with less drizzle than in 2016, the majority of tournament days expecting maximum temperatures of 21-25 degrees, only three to four days in the 30s and perhaps one in the high 30s. A new spectator entry point is also now on the city side of the venue, via the Tanderrum Bridge.

As for dual Paralympics tennis gold medallist Dylan Alcott’s joke that he would have Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray moved to court six while he played on Rod Laver Arena, Tiley said: “How great was it Dylan Alcott winning the Newcombe Medal? The first wheelchair athlete to win it across all athletes and the speech he gave on Monday night was very emotional and was brilliant. Right now anything Dylan Alcott wants he pretty much can get.”

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Netflix downloads: everything you need to know

Netflix announced today that subscribers will be able to download select movies and TV shows for offline playback. The feature had been requested by users for a long time, and it’s reportedly been in the works since June. Now, anyone with a Netflix subscription can download movies and TV shows to watch when they’re not connected to the internet.

In the past, the predominant belief was that Netflix offline viewing would be targeted at countries without reliable internet access. However, since that’s not the case any more, the announcement is already being championed by binge-watchers and frequent travellers. It’s also raised some questions among the tech community. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about downloading videos from Netflix, and how you can plan to take advantage of this sweet new feature. How to start downloading movies

You can only download Netflix videos using the iOS or Android app. Netflix requires users to have at least iOS 8.0 or Android 4.4.2, in addition to having the latest version of the app. Downloading videos will consume about as much data as streaming, so if you plan on saving a bunch of videos, we’d recommend connecting to a reliable Wi-Fi connection to prevent any unexpected mobile data charges. How much storage space you’ll need

The size of downloadable Netflix files depends on how long the video is. For example, one episode of Black Mirror with a running time of one hour and three minutes is about 280 megabytes in standard definition. The high-definition version of the same episode clocks in at 440 megabytes (about twice the size). How much storage space you’ll need to binge

Let’s be honest: This new offline viewing feature is cool because it allows you to load up a bunch of content for long trips. Say you’re taking a six-hour flight and want to watch downloaded Netflix videos the whole time. You’ll need six Black Mirror episodes which would require 1.68 gigabytes of free space for SD and 2.64 gigabytes for HD. So unless you’re flying further than Southeast Asia you probably won’t need much more than that. How to get the best quality video

You can choose whether you want standard-definition video — which is faster to download and takes up less space — or high-definition video. In order to keep downloads quick, Netflix sets downloads to standard video (720×480) by default. According to a Netflix spokesperson, HD support will vary by device. You can find the option to change in the app’s settings. For most users, standard definition will be good enough, especially if you’re watching on a small screen like a phone or tablet. How to manage the files

Netflix declined to comment on the file type that is saved, and you can’t view it in a file manager app, either. It works similarly to other subscription apps like Spotify. According to a Netflix spokesperson, “The downloads can only be viewed within the Netflix mobile app; they aren’t like videos you download from the internet and store to your device.” It’s safe to say this is a digital rights management (DRM) scheme to protect the copyrights of videos being offered. How to move files to a desktop or laptop (Spoiler: You can’t)

You must use the Netflix app to download and view saved videos. How to keep downloads from expiring

Each Netflix download has a different expiration time. Movies and TV shows that expire from your device in less than seven days will display how much time is left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. For some movies and shows, offline viewing must be completed within 48 hours of the moment you press play. When you start playing one of these titles, you’ll see how many hours you have left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. Explore the smart design, breakthrough science and awe-inspiring tech shaping your future at .This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲培训.

Martin Shkreli responds after Sydney Grammar boys make Daraprim

The man who has been called the “poster boy for greedy drug company executives” and “the most hated man in the world”, Martin Shkreli, has responded to reports that a group of Sydney schoolboys made a drug that his company charges at $US750 ($A1011) a tablet.

Soon after the Fairfax Media report broke, people on Twitter started peppering Mr Shkreli with questions about the story. @nedavanovac lol how is that showing anyone up? almost any drug can be made at small scale for a low price. glad it makes u feel good tho.— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 1, 2016

Mr Shkreli’s company gained the rights to Daraprim, an anti-parasitic medication listed by the World Health Organisation as essential, and soon after he raised the price from $US13.50 ($18) to $US750 a dose.

Mr Shkreli said the price rise was to extract money from insurance companies to fund research for better drugs. He says anybody in the US without insurance who needs the drug can get the drug for free.

Under the guidance of Dr Alice Williamson at the University of Sydney, some year 11 Sydney Grammar students made the drug for about $2 a dose.

In explaining his motivation during the Sydney Grammar school project, student James Wood said: “I don’t believe his justification for the price hike.” James, 17, said he thought this seemed “a bit wishy-washy”.

“He was clearly trying to justify something driven by the profit motive,” James said.

Other Twitter users suggested to Mr Shkreli the boys’ work had ‘destroyed’ him. @meatfreq destroyed?— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) November 30, 2016

He laughed off this tweet from Luke Gamon, an Australian post-doc studying in Copenhagen. @lgamon lol— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) November 30, 2016

Mr Shkreli said that making the drug is easy, or rather “ez”. @Scottyt2Hottie yea uh anyone can make any drug it is pretty ez— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 1, 2016

The founder of the Open Source Malaria Consortium at the University of Sydney, Associate Professor Matthew Todd, noticed one of Mr Shkreli’s tweets said “learning synthesis isn’t innovation”.

Associate Professor Todd said: “On one hand you have Mr Shkreli who bought a known thing and raised the price.

“On the other you have school kids who have made this thing in their spare time with their teacher. They had to develop stuff and really work on it.

“You tell me which of those is innovative.”

He congratulated the students. “It’s very impressive work,” he said.

In response to Mr Shkreli’s tweet that “anyone can make any drug it is pretty ez”, Dr Williamson said: “Not just anyone can make this drug. You need training and facilities and equipment.

She then made the point: “If anyone can do it and it’s so cheap, it highlights why it shouldn’t be $US750 a dose.”

Mr Shkreli did not respond to an invitation to respond to Fairfax Media.

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Backpacker tax: Malcolm Turnbull attacks Bill Shorten for favouring ‘rich white kids’ from Europe

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has attacked Labor for sticking by its demand for a 10.5 per cent backpacker tax. Photo: Andrew Meares Backpackers Rebecca Marsh, Amy Smyth and Rosie Togneri from Northern Ireland. Photo: Peter Rae

With time running out to find a solution to the backpacker tax impasse, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ramped up his rhetoric on the issue by accusing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of favouring “rich white kids from Europe” over poor Pacific Islanders and young Australians.

The backpacker tax issue will dominate Parliament on Thursday, the final sitting day of the year, as the government scrambles to strike a deal with the crossbench to stop the rate on overseas workers soaring to 32.5 per cent in January.

The government thought it had sealed a deal with senators for a 15 per cent tax rate but this was undone on Wednesday when crossbenchers Derryn Hinch and Rod Culleton surprisingly sided with Labor to back a 10.5 per cent rate. A 13 per cent rate is now being discussed.

“Bill Shorten thinks rich kids from Europe should pay less tax than Pacific Islanders working here to send money back to their villages,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Thursday.

“They say a backpacker from Europe, a rich kid on holidays here from Germany or Norway, backpacking around, he or she should pay less tax and that Pacific Islander who comes here to pick fruit during the season and is sending that money back to his village – some of the poorest countries in the world.”

Mr Turnbull said it would be unfair for workers from the Pacific Islands, who come to Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program, to pay a flat tax rate of 15 per cent while European backpackers are only charged 10.5 per cent.

“The Labor Party, for nothing other than political cynicism, wants these white kids – rich white kids from Europe – who come here on their holidays to pay less tax than some of the Pacific Islanders from some of the poorest countries in the world.

“Where is the equity in that?

“And [Mr Shorten] wants these kids, from Europe, to pay less tax than Australians working alongside them. I mean, seriously!

“What’s the principle there?”

Labor has attacked Mr Turnbull for claiming Australians would pay more tax than backpackers because locals can access the tax free threshold for the first $18,200 of their yearly income.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Turnbull’s comments on foreign workers were “unhinged” and inaccurate.

“The combination of super tax and the tax rate means the effective tax rate for backpackers under Labor’s compromise of 10.5 per cent is higher than for the Seasonal Worker Program, as these workers are not subject to the same superannuation clawback arrangements,” he said.

Mr Turnbull repeated the line about “rich kids” from Europe in several interviews on Thursday morning.

On Sydney radio 2GB he again contrasted European backpackers with Australia’s aid program for Islanders.

“Bill Shorten wants rich white kids from Germany and Norway and Sweden coming out here, having a holiday. He wants them to pay less tax than a Pacific Islander, then someone from Tonga who is sending the money back to his village,” he said.

He told Channel Seven’s Sunrise that Labor’s position was “sinister” and driven by “sheer bloody mindedness”.

“Labor wants a rich kid from Germany, from Norway, from Sweden to be paying less tax than someone from one of the poorest countries in the world who are sending their money back to their village,” he said.

Peak lobby group the National Farmers Federation said it would be a disaster for fruit growers if the 32.5 per cent tax rate kicked in from January.

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