Julie and Reeva Steenkamp had much in common.
The former was not a blonde, glamorous model, nor did she date an internationally celebrated athlete.
But she was brutally killed at the hands of her partner, just like Steenkamp. Except you will never read about Julie in the papers or see her on the news.
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I wake up with Today. And I have since it was hosted by Steve Liebmann and Liz Hayes. Don’t get me wrong. Sunrise is good. I have no complaint. It’s just that having let the Today crew into my house so many years ago, they are now part of the family. It is a simple question of tribal loyalty.
And so, having declared my interest, let me say that I now have a family tiff with the Today Show which needs resolution. The Today Show is refusing to tell us the weather. And not just in relation to a smaller country town; but to a whole nation - a nation of 7 million people.
One of the most loyal audiences for the Today Show is in Papua New Guinea. The show is broadcast into PNG not once, but twice: on the local TV station EMTV (which used to be owned by Channel 9) and on Imparja which airs in Northern Australia.
We need to cut our foreign aid budget to help for the reconstruction of Queensland and to help Queenslanders get back on their feet.
There are three main reasons why we should look for savings within the aid budget.
First, the aid budget is set to undergo a massive increase in the next few years and there is room for cuts. Currently, according AusAID, the agency that hands out our foreign aid, our aid budget is about $4.3 billion. According to AusAID projections, this will increase to $4.84 billion in 2011-12; $5.53 billion in 2012-13; $6.44 billion in 2013-14; $7.42 billion in 2014-15; and $8.49 billion in 2015-16.
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It has a population of 6.3 million. It is one of Australia’s two really large recipients of aid.
We are its largest trading partner. It is our 19th. It’s about 400 times closer to us than New Zealand.
Yet for some reason our media and public discourse doesn’t seem to rate the importance of Papua New Guinea. On this website a search on Papua New Guinea yields 23 hits compared to 35 for Spain, 76 for South Africa and 94 for Iran.
Kokoda has claimed more Australian lives this year than Afghanistan.
During the last week two trekkers died on the Kokoda Trail, a couple more were evacuated by helicopter and fourteen went down with food poisoning. Yesterday a campsite that took years to build at Ofi Creek was burned to the ground over an argument between two landowners.
Land disputes now block the wartime trail over the ‘golden staircase’ and Iorabaiwa Ridge – the closest the Japanese army got to Port Moresby in 1942.
The Kokoda Trail, which held so much potential as a model for sustainable eco-tourism in Papua New Guinea is beginning to choke on its own success.
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For many it is a pilgrimage and for some it is an honourable adventure.
Thousands of Australians each year make the journey to Papua New Guinea in honour of our fallen World War 2 diggers. Each journey is bedevilled with anticipation and anxiety, for walking the Kokoda track is tough and grinding.
The mountains between Port Moresby and Kokoda are forbidding. The towering peaks of green thick foliage and tall trees closely linked to the sheer cliffs dwarf the intermittent rainforests of the range, and the narrow and deep valleys with their raging rivers pose the ultimate challenge during wet weather crossing.
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