Monthly Archives: April 2019



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Giant marsupial fossil found on Vic beach

A fossilised giant wombat-like skeleton as large as a small car has been found on a Victorian beach by a local beachgoer.


It is believed to be the Diprotodon, the largest marsupial ever to have lived, and may be as old as 200,000 years and have weighed up to 1000kg.

Museum Victoria senior paleontologist Erich Fitzgerald said it was an exciting discovery because of its potential to shed new light on the extinct species.

“What we know is that it appears to be the most complete and best preserved discovery of this species in Victoria and one of the more complete found in Australia,” Dr Fitzgerald told AAP on Wednesday.

“We may be able to get a lot more information about the animal’s appearance and also potentially about its lifestyle from this particular specimen, given how much of it we actually have.”

The skeleton was discovered earlier this year on a beach in Mornington Peninsula National Park by a Sorrento local who noticed bones eroding out of a rock.

“It was found by completely by chance. The person did exactly the right thing and contacted Parks Victoria,” Dr Fitzgerald said.

The discovery came as a surprise to paleontologists as the area had never revealed any significant fossils.

“The ones that had been found have not been very complete,” Dr Fitzgerald said.

“It suggests further exploration may lead to additional discoveries.”

The job of removing the specimen from the site is ongoing and it may be months before researchers know for sure how much of it is preserved and intact.

The species was widespread across Australia when the first indigenous people arrived but became extinct about 25,000 years ago.



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Nalbandian retirement a ‘loss’: del Potro

Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro on Wednesday paid tribute to fellow Argentine David Nalbandian after the one-time top-three player announced his retirement from tennis due to injury.


“Everyone knows Nalbandian was a really great player – he won so may good tournaments,” world number seven del Potro told reporters in Tokyo, after reaching the quarter-finals of the Japan Open. “We have lost a really talented played from the tour.”

Nalbandian, who had a heated rivalry with Australian Lleyton Hewitt after the pair contested the 2002 Wimbledon final and several Davis Cup matches in the 2000s, hung up his racquet because of a persistent right shoulder problem.

The gritty 31-year-old, winner of 11 ATP Tour titles, had slipped to 231st in the world rankings after another injury-hit season.

“On his day he could beat anyone,” del Potro said of Nalbandian, who also reached the 2002 Wimbledon final where he lost to Lleyton Hewitt.

“I remember when he reached the final at Wimbledon,” added the 25-year-old del Potro. “I was very young at the time. There were also a lot of big Davis Cup wins and important matches he won, like when he beat Federer at the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Nalbandian had called the decision “difficult” when he made the announcement earlier on Wednesday.

“It is a sad day but my shoulder simply can’t cope any more at the highest level,” he said.

He will play a final exhibition match against Rafa Nadal on November 23 in Buenos Aires.

Nalbandian, who reached his career-high three in the world in 2006, also inspired Argentina to three Davis Cup finals, although they lost all of them.

He once told French newspaper L’Equipe a few years ago that he would also like to compete in the Rally World Championship.

Nalbandian began the year in promising fashion, reaching the final in Sao Paulo where he lost to Nadal, but then his shoulder problem returned and an operation did not improve the situation.



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Record $33m on offer at Aust Open tennis

Australian Open organisers expect all of the world’s top 100 men and women to play in January’s tennis grand slam, chasing a record prizemoney pool of $33 million.


Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, who is also the Open’s tournament director, said it would be a boost to have reigning US and French Open champion Rafael Nadal back, after he missed this year’s event through illness and injury.

Nadal could next week regain the No.1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open for the past three years.

“We’re very pleased as things stand today that we’re expecting all the top 100 men and all the top 100 women,” Tiley said at Wednesday’s launch of the 2014 tournament.

“It’s great, we’ve got our defending champions Novak and Victoria (Azarenka) and having them back, they’ve done extremely well here.

“Novak’s dominated this event over the past five years.

“But Nadal missed it last year. Having Rafa back, he’s excited and wants to come back and play.”

Prizemoney increases from $30 million last year.

US greats and former Open champions Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras will attend as guests, with Sampras to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first of his two Australian Open titles.

But Tiley confirmed Bernard Tomic’s father John, still serving a 12-month ban from the tour, after being found guilty of assaulting his son’s then-hitting partner Thomas Drouet in Madrid in May, won’t be allowed inside Melbourne Park.

Tiley said the Australian Open and lead-up events were obligated to abide by the ban, but they remained supportive of the Tomic family.

“We talk to them,” he said.

“He’s Australian and at the end of the day it’s about Bernard and it’s about his opportunity.

“He played Davis Cup for us and did a great job.

“It’s unfortunate, the situation, but it is what it is, the ruling, and we uphold that.”

Tiley said Tomic Sr wouldn’t be given dispensation to attend, even if his son made it deep into the event.

Melbourne Park’s third main showcase court, Margaret Court Arena, will be in use, but a retractable roof being built over it remains under construction and will stay open throughout the event.



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Microsoft hands user data to Aust govt

Microsoft handed Australian government agents personal information about more than a thousand users in the first half of 2013, a transparency report reveals.


Between January and June, authorities made 1219 requests for access to data relating to 1462 accounts.

Microsoft granted 1050 (86 per cent) of those requests – handing over information such as email addresses, names, locations and internet protocol (IP) addresses.

However, the company did not disclose user-generated “content data” – which includes emails, documents and photographs.

Six requests did not meet legal requirements and were rejected, while the company was unable to find the requested data in 163 cases.

The report is the second Microsoft has released on government data requests.

The first revealed the company received 2238 requests from Australian authorities last year.

Globally, 64 governments made 37,000 requests concerning 67,000 accounts. More than 70 per cent came from the US, UK, France, Germany and Turkey.

Microsoft provided information 80 per cent of the time but only one in fifty requests led the company to release sensitive “content data”.

The requests usually relate to criminal investigations but some involve “imminent emergencies” such as suicide threats.

The company sought to reassure users, stating on its website that fewer than one in every 10,000 users were affected by law enforcement requests during the reporting period.

Microsoft was unable to confirm the number of active Australian users.

“We place a premium on respecting and protecting the privacy of our users,” the company said in the report.

“At the same time, Microsoft recognises that law enforcement plays a critically important role in keeping our users and our technology safe and free from abuse or exploitation.”

Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo! have all released similar reports in recent months.

Transparency has emerged as a sensitive issue this year in the wake of leaks by former US government contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed that nine companies had turned over user data to the US National Security Agency.

Last month, Yahoo! released its first global transparency report, which revealed it had received 704 requests from Australian agents in the first six months of 2013, regarding 799 accounts or users.

The company granted full access to “content data” in response to 11 requests – handing over information such as the content of emails, uploaded files and Yahoo address, calendar and notepad entries.

It handed over “non-content data” in response to 305 of the requests, rejected 242 and found no data in 146.

Facebook’s first transparency report, released in August, reported the social networking site received 546 requests regarding 601 Australian-held accounts in the first six months of 2013.

It granted information in response to 64 per cent of the requests.

In the same month, Twitter revealed it received 58 information requests from Australian authorities in the first half of the year, compared to fewer than ten in the second half of 2012. The microblogging site responded with information in a quarter of cases.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) recently confirmed to AAP that it made requests for data from Facebook but would not disclose the number or their nature.



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Greens request WA Senate recount

Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine today confirmed the party had requested a recount after senator Scott Ludlam lost his West Australian Senate seat to the Palmer United Party (PUP).


After a tight count involving complicated preference votes, three Liberal senators, two Labor senators and Zhenya Wang from PUP were declared winners.

Scrutineers have identified the result may have come down to a 14-vote margin.

thanks to everyone who went through this wait with us. checking for recount possibility; meantime your support means a lot #ausvotes

— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) October 2, 2013

Ms Milne said The Greens had lodged a recount request with the Australian Electoral Commission.

“The entire Party Room is devastated at the thought of Scott leaving the Senate next year,” she said.

“It would be particularly hard given how close the result was.

“Scott is widely respected in the Parliament and in the community for his passion, his wealth of knowledge and his calm and reasoned demeanour. And I know between now and when the Senate changes over Scott will be fiercely advocating for digital rights, keeping uranium in the ground, keeping the carbon price and getting big solar up and running in WA.”

Senator Ludlam has thanked the 124,000 people who voted Green in WA, and the Western Australian and national campaign teams for their work during the election campaign.

“In particular, I acknowledge Senator Christine Milne for her dedicated and tenacious leadership: the role of the Greens has never been more crucial than now,” Senator Ludlam said.

David Johnston, Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds will represent the Liberals, David Johnston and Louise Pratt will represent Labor, and Mr Wang will be the PUP’s latest parliamentary representative.

confirming we will shortly be lodging a formal request for a recount of elements of the WA senate vote #ausvotes

— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) October 2, 2013

AEC says a Senate recount has never been done before. Greens can’t simply ask for one cos of close result. Has to be a procedural issue

— Andrew Tillett (@andrewtillett) October 2, 2013

“Everyone is going to have a close look at the numbers and see if there is cause for a recount,” he told ABC radio.

“But it appears they (PUP) have been elected on roughly half the vote of the Greens, and that is the sort of result our voting system throws up from time to time.

“(Losing) is still sinking in, but I would love to keep working on the things I have been working on – and if you think politicians do a crap job, then you should just try it.” Senator Ludlam said there was an urgent need for electoral reform.

“It is an elegant system being expertly gamed and manipulated,” he said. “The whole purpose of an electoral system is to accurately as possible reflect the voting will of the Australian people. It has let us down in this instance.”

The Australian Sports Party, which was in the running, also lost out on preference votes.