Wednesday's news in under 5 minutes

1. Overhaul to welfare system

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews

The social services minister, Kevin Andrews has labeled Australia’s welfare system ‘unsustainable’ and announced that it will be overhauled.

The two main areas of focus of the welfare reforms are the disability support pension and Newstart, with the government looking to move people from the payments into the workforce.

Over five million people received government payments in 2012 with the age pension making up almost half that number though the Minister has ruled out changes in that area.

Andrews has estimated the cost of Australia’s welfare system at $70bn and ruled out returning single mothers with children older than eight to the single parent pension, saying there was too much debt.

2. Asylum seeker claims Navy beat them

The ABC has obtained footage of asylum seekers being treated for severe burns after they were allegedly forced to hold on to a hot pipe on their boat as punishment for wanting to go to the toilet.

The asylum seekers also allege the Navy personnel beat them.

The footage shows the seven men receiving treatment in Indonesia. However the Immigration Minister says that the Australian Navy has not acted inappropriately.

3. NSW one-punch laws

The new measures to be introduced to NSW to curb alcohol related violence do not go far enough according to the NSW opposition. But the parents of Thomas Kelly, who died after being punched in Kings Cross in 2012, say they are happy the new laws go “way above what we were asking for”.

“Mandatory is the key word here. The judge has no choice now. It’s welcome news,” Kelly’s father Ralph said.

The new laws include mandatory eight-year jail sentences for fatal one-punch attacks fuelled by alcohol or drugs, expanded Sydney CBD lockout zones, a freeze on new liquor licences, and the statewide closure of bottle shops at 10:00pm.

Sentences for serious assaults involving alcohol will also be increased by two years.

4. Sex Predator

Police have released this image of the ‘predator’.

Victorian police are hunting for a man they believe is responsible for three sexual assaults in inner Melbourne. In the latest attack a 22-year-old was attacked in a building stairwell around 6am on Saturday after she was dragged from Southern Cross Station.

The man is described as Asian or South American in appearance, aged in his late teens to mid 20s, and with a slim build. He is believed to be about 165 centimetres tall. He has spoken with an accent that could be South American.

Anyone with information is asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

5. Thailand state of emergency

The government of Thailand has declared a state of emergency that gives security forces wide powers to crackdown on protesters following escalating violence in Bangkok.

The 60-day emergency decree gives security agencies the power to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare areas off-limits.

The decree applies to Bangkok and surrounding areas and came into force this morning.

6. Suicide of teen prompts debate

Despite being seen to ‘have it all’ the 19-year old took her own life

The suicide of a 19-year old Ivy League teenager in the US has sparked debate about the reporting of suicide, and the pressure of University. For more read this post here.

“Madison Holleran’s death sparks debate about suicide.”


7. Syria

Former war crimes prosecutors say they have uncovered evidence of systematic torture by the Syrian government.

The prosecutors’ report includes thousands of images of corpses that the investigators say were detainees held and killed by the military police in Syria.

The gruesome images include signs of emaciation, strangulation and beatings inflicted on the victims.

8. Teacher on child sex charges

A female teacher from a Brisbane High School is facing 10 child sex charges over an alleged relationship with a teenage male student.

The woman, 26, was charged on Tuesday and is expected to face Brisbane Magistrates Court on this morning.

Police allege she had the relationship with the 15-year-old student during 2011 and 2012.

9. Victoria’s Secret breastfeeding furore

A mother has been asked to leave a Victoria’s Secret store for trying to breastfeed

A breastfeeding mother has been asked to leave a Victoria’s Secret store in the US and feed in an alley. Despite Texas having breastfeeding laws much like Australia the woman was told, “that it was a long alley, so if she walked all the way to the end no one would see her breastfeeding her son.”

She told Fox7 News “ I had never thought of breastfeeding as such a shameful thing, especially in a store where breasts are visible in every corner.

“For a chain that promotes ‘the beauty’ of the female body, and that shows pictures of almost nude women, breastfeeding should most certainly be welcomed.”

10. Tantrum study

A study into toddler’s tantrums has shown that it is not the fault of the parents – genetics is to blame.

For the past 25 years it has largely been thought that the development of childhood aggression was down to learning from bad role models.

The study found that – consistent with other studies – physical aggression peaked during early childhood, but that the frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression was influenced by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors

11. Japanese dolphin hunt

Japanese fishermen have finished killing some of the 250 dolphins trapped recently in what activists say was the biggest roundup they’ve witnessed in the last four years.

The conservation group, Sea Shepherd said the fishermen first selected 52 dolphins to keep alive for sale to aquariums and other customers. They included a rare albino calf and its mother.

Of the rest, about 40 were killed, one became stuck in a net and drowned, and the others were released, it said.

12. Baby on ledge

Distressing footage of a baby walking on a window ledge in India nine-storeys up has appeared online.

The baby is first seen walking out on to the window ledge of the building – he is alone, and no parent is within sight.

At one stage the baby goes perilously close to the edge and put his foot over the side.

The child’s identity is unknown.

In brief:

In the tennis Stanislas Wawrinka has caused one of the biggest upsets of the Australian Open, knocking out three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7.

What news are you talking about today?