Is crude Ted really a family film?

Seth MacFarlane’s Ted features drug use, sexual banter and profanity-fueled humor. ‘I loved that teddy bear. He could’ve said anything and it wouldn’t have bothered me,’ said one mother.
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LOS ANGELES: When I was with a group of parents last week, watching our kids play in a 14-and-under baseball tournament, I asked them how many of the boys – aged 13 and 14 – had gone to see the movie Ted (rated MA15+ in Australia). The answer: just about all of ’em. But here’s what I found really surprising: nearly all of them went with their mothers.

Put simply: despite its rampant drug use, crude sexual banter and profanity-fueled humour, Ted has become a family movie.

I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly shocked. When my wife and I saw Ted, we sat next to a dad with his son. When I asked the boy how old he was, he said 11.

This isn’t the first time a lot of parents have taken their kids to a raunchy comedy. The Hangover series also had considerable multi-generational appeal, though judging from anecdotal evidence, it was more of a father and son experience – bachelor parties gone bad isn’t exactly a mum-friendly genre.

But Ted has crashed the cultural zeitgeist in a big way. At first, I figured this might simply be a chattering-class phenomena. It wouldn’t exactly be a news flash that parents in West LA have different values than parents in Kansas City or Cleveland. But judging from the number of kids in the theatres across the US, Ted may be breaking records in terms of drawing pre-teens and early teens into the multiplexes.

Because it’s an R-rated movie in the US, children under 17 seeing Ted have to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. According to CinemaScore, a research group that interviews opening-night moviegoers around the US, the number of under-18 moviegoers for R-rated comedies tends to run somewhere between 10 percent to 13 percent.

According to CinemaScore figures, 10 percent of the opening-night audience for Horrible Bosses and Bridesmaids was under 18. For Hangover 2 and Knocked Up, it was 13 percent.

For Ted, it was a whopping 18 percent. And those are just opening-night figures. If the survey included Saturday night and Sunday afternoon moviegoers, the percentage would surely be considerably higher.

But what made Ted such a family-friendly film? After talking to a bunch of mums as well as some Hollywood marketing executives, I think I can sketch out a few plausible theories.

First off, the film benefited in a big way from we might call the Seth MacFarlane Factor. MacFarlane, who co-wrote and directed the film, has built up a huge reservoir of goodwill with parents and kids, thanks to his popular Family Guy TV series. Even though the show’s comedy is sarcastic and occasionally crass, it’s hardly outrageously offensive material. So when parents saw MacFarlane’s name plastered all over Universal Pictures’ ads for Ted, they assumed that the film’s comedy wouldn’t be as nasty or insulting as Project X or Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy, two recent R-rated comedies (both rated MA15+ in Australia).

And of course, Ted has, at its centre, a teddy bear. I suspect many moms were subconsciously drawn to the film because of the bear. Even though the bear actually has a mouth like a sewer, it was a reassuring icon from their kids’ childhoods. As one mum told me: “I loved that teddy bear. He could’ve said anything and it wouldn’t have bothered me. If they’d been selling stuffed Ted bears at the concession counter, I would’ve bought one.”

Movie marketers view it pretty much the same way. “You could say that parents were tricked, in the best possible way, by the combination of the furriness of the bear and acceptability of Seth MacFarlane,” said one studio marketing chief. Because of the bear, Ted had a very different image with parents than a stoner comedy featuring Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill.

“Most R-rated comedies with lots of drugs and bad behaviour come off as emulatable or aspirational, which for mums, is a huge drawback,” he said. “But somehow it’s OK to see scenes where Mark Wahlberg gets stoned with a teddy bear. It comes off as far more of a harmless fantasy than if Wahlberg was getting stoned with Owen Wilson.”

Ted also benefited from its online buzz factor. When Universal first put up the film’s trailer this year, the blogosphere and Twitter were filled with positive word-of-mouth. By the time the movie opened, fans were tweeting about the packed theaters and sharing great moments from the film.

The positive buzz created what movie marketers call a collective sense of momentum for the film. “Everyone is so inter-connected now that when you have a hit, it feeds off of its own frenzy,” said one marketing expert. “When the kids are all tweeting, ‘It’s so cool’ and ‘I’m at this theatre – why aren’t you here too?’ it creates an enormous peer pressure that parents find hard to resist.”

Or as one mum told me: “It just gets to the breaking point where you go, ‘Am I going to be the only parent who says no?'”

Speaking from personal experience – I have one of those 14-year-old boys too – it isn’t easy to say no. So far, I’ve been holding firm. I let my son see 21 Jump Street and American Reunion, but I’m drawing a line in the sand with Ted. The foul language and sexual innuendo didn’t bother me, but the massive amount of casual drug use – even if it involved a guy and a bear – came off as a bit too easy to emulate for me.

But how firm is that line in the sand? Ask any parent. When a movie is as irresistible as Ted, it creates a big cultural wave, certainly a wave big enough to wash away a lot of parental lines in the sand.

LA TIMES

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Loans to cover pay date switch for 84,000 health bureaucrats

Queensland Health plans to provide a loan of two weeks’ wages to each of its 84,000 workers, allowing the department to delay the regular pay date in a bid to reduce errors.
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Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said today the government would push ahead with plans to change to pay date for its workforce, as overpayments continued to cost about $1.7 million and affect 4000 people each pay cycle.

Mr Springborg said employees were currently paid three days after the end of their roster, but from October that period would be extended to 10 days, in line with expert recommendations to improve the accuracy of payments.

This would mean as many as 10,000 additional forms could be included in each pay run, but the income of health staff would not be affected, he said.

Mr Springborg said the changeover would require transition loans to help staff manage their financial obligations, with such loans set to be provided to all employees unless they opted out. He said the loan value to be calculated for each staff member would be based on about two weeks’ net pay.

Each loan would be recovered automatically when staff members left Queensland Health.

Mr Springborg said it was unfortunate that employees with bank account deductions would need to adjust their schedule to suit the new pay timetable.

He said “long-suffering employees” would be inconvenienced by the change, the latest impact coming in the wake of Labor’s 2010 introduction of a new health payroll system “from hell”.

“Details will be discussed with unions shortly,” Mr Springborg said in a statement.

“We will handle this process sensitively, but it will not be comfortable and for that, from those responsible, there is still no apology.”

Mr Springborg also announced that in the future, staff pays would be adjusted automatically when overpayments occurred, so that mistakes were resolved correctly.

This would not apply to pre-existing overpayments or debts from earlier payroll malfunctions, but would be “restricted to correct future payroll overpayments – and only after permission is sought and received from the employee concerned”.

Mr Springborg is due to face the media early this afternoon.

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‘Average’ Cats can lift: Scott

GEELONG coach Chris Scott believes the reigning premiers have a “huge opportunity” to lift their “average” season in the run home to finals.
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The seventh-placed Cats, face a tough task in coming weeks, facing the league’s top six teams, starting with Collingwood this Saturday at the MCG.

“In some respects it’s a little bit daunting, especially for the people looking in from the outside,” Scott said.

“But we are treating it as a huge opportunity. We have a chance to test ourselves in the way we play against the good teams. We have a chance to take points away from them. We have a big chance to really improve the way that we are playing and there’s no better time to do that than against the really good sides.”

The Cats narrowly staved off an unsually uncompetitive Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Sunday, beating the home team by 14 points.

Still Scott believes the Cats can dramatically lift their form to ensure they are playing their best football as the season nears its pointy end.

“Absolutely I think we can (have a big jump in form). As I said the preference is to be playing better but there is no reason why we can’t play really well this week.

“It would be probably easier for us to be playing really well and continue that form into this week rather than to be playing average footy and then play really well, but it doesn’t make it impossible.

“I was asked the question post game on the weekend: ‘Do you think you can win on the weekend?’ Of course we can. Of course we can. I’m not saying we are going to. But if we play near our best, absolutely we can win. Not only this week, but every other game we play in the rest of the year.”

Collingwood defeated Geelong by 12 points in the dying seconds of their last meeting in round eight.

Scott took heart from the game and believed the Cats game style could still “stand up” to the Pies.

“I don’t think there’s been significant change in the way the two teams will approach it, so we know we need to play our best to go with them.

“They have been playing pretty good footy, especially before the weekend, so it’s going to be a big challenge.

“(But) I think we have got a pretty good record against Collingwood. I mean, apparently we were playing pretty poorly before we played them last time and scores were level with 90 seconds to go, so we think our method is OK against them, but we are not hiding away from the fact that we need to play a little bit better than we are to compete with them.”

Geelong will most likely without power forward James Podsiadly, who missed last week with an ankle.

He will have a fitness test last this week, but Scott conceded that Podsiadly, who did not join full training this morning, would probably be ruled out.

“It’s a bit hard to say. He didn’t do anything last week. We ruled him out probably mid week so that would mean he’s in doubt for this week.

“We’ll train later in the week and probably give him until Thursday and Friday before we make a call. At the moment, speculating, I’d say he’d be in doubt. But as I said he hasn’t tested it so we don’t really know.”

The Cats will also be missing 2007 Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel who has accepted a suspension after striking Gold Coast’s Trent McKenzie behind play.

“We are disappointed he is not going to be available but we understand things happen,” Scott said.

“Jimmy is a very experienced player. He has got a pretty good record, everyone respects him as a ball player, so we’ll treat it as an isolated incident and move on.”

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Rediscovering passion: Canberra basketballer’s round the world journey

Olympic dreams … Abby Bishop is now on her way to London.Basketball has taken Abby Bishop around the world but as she prepares for the biggest moment of her career, the former Canberra Capital revealed she almost quit when she lost her passion for the sport.
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Bishop left Canberra on Monday to begin her Olympic Games journey.

It’s the dream she’s been trying to reach since arriving at the Australian Institute of Sport as a boom teenager in 2005.

Since then she has conquered the WNBL, won a WNBA title and played at a world championship.

But life as a semi professional took its toll and Bishop was ready to give basketball away just 18 months ago.

Her love of the game disappeared and it became a chore.

But with the Australian Opals chasing an elusive gold medal, the 23-year-old’s passion is back and she is ready to perform on the world stage.

“There have been a few moments where I wasn’t sure about basketball, I felt like I was missing out on what my friends were doing,” Bishop said.

“But I realised they envy what I do and that I do love the game and I’m not taking it for granted again.

“There were times when I didn’t want to do it any more, I didn’t enjoy my time at Dandenong [in the WNBL in 2010-11].

“The biggest thing is you have to enjoy it, you have to find a way to be happy and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt.

“It has just made me stronger and helped me in my journey to where I am now.”

The Opals will be one of the first teams to arrive in London as they aim to better the silver medals they have won at the last three Olympics.

Superstar Lauren Jackson will lead the campaign. But with Penny Taylor out of action, Bishop and her teammates need to rise to a new level to reach the top.

Capitals coach Carrie Graf will lead the gold medal bid with former Canberra player Suzy Batkovic also in the side.

Bishop saw limited game time at her world championship debut two years ago, but her workload will increase in London.

“Everyone goes to an Olympics wanting to win gold and that’s what we want to do,” Bishop said.

“I think it will hit me when we get to the [Olympic] village … I’ve grown as a player and I feel as ready as I can be.”

Bishop has lived a nomadic life during her basketball career.

Originally from South Australia, Bishop moved to Canberra to start a scholarship with the AIS.

She left the program early to join the Capitals and played in three championships.

After helping the team to a title in 2010-11, she joined the Seattle Storm in the United States, returned to Australia to play for Dandenong and moved to the Adelaide Lightning last year.

At the end of the Olympics, she will join French club Perpignan.

But “Canberra is my home” and Bishop is building a house in Bonner.

“Everyone says why do you live in Canberra, but I’ve been here for seven years now and I love it,” Bishop said.

“It’s my base and I’ve got amazing friends and I’ll always come back here.”

The Opals are in the same group as Great Britain, Brazil, Russia, France and Canada.

They will play their first match against Great Britain on July 28.

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No charges – but no apology for adviser Weston

Former ministerial adviser Tristan Weston worked to bring down former police chief commissioner Simon Overland, and is not owed an apology by the government, according to Police Minister Peter Ryan.
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The Office of Police Integrity has reportedly written to Mr Weston saying he will not be charged with a criminal offence, despite his admissions that he used his position in Mr Ryan’s office to actively undermine Mr Overland, who eventually resigned.

Mr Ryan — who described Mr Weston as a “Walter Mitty” character — told radio station 3AW it was unusual for anyone to be charged on the basis of Office of Police Integrity reports.

“I think he did act inappropriately,” Mr Ryan said.

“He conducted himself in that period of 90 days in a situation where he was leaking information extensively to the media. He subsequently apologised to my chief of staff and to myself and the report carries his own admissions in relation to his course of conduct at the time and he resigned.”

Mr Ryan said he still believed Mr Weston had run a campaign to undermine Mr Overland and promote the prospect of the former chief commissioner’s deputy, Sir Ken Jones, taking the top job.

“He conducted himself in a way for which he was most apologetic when the matter was disclosed, and as far as I’m concerned, there it rests.”

Mr Ryan said that if Mr Weston — who was a serving officer when he worked in the minister’s officer — was still a member of Victoria Police he could be subject to disciplinary action.

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Locals urged to fight fuel rises

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LOCAL motorists are being urged to take a stand on petrol prices by the electorate’s state and federal politicians.

Member for Calare John Cobb and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole say the cost of fuel will rise even further with the introduction of the carbon tax, amid concerns local motorists are already paying too much at the bowser.

The Federal Government, however, says the carbon tax will not apply to petrol used by households.

Mr Cobb and Mr Toole have joined forces to appeal to local motorists who believe they are being ripped off by fuel prices to make a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Mr Toole said he was concerned by recent reports that motorists in the Bathurst region and further west are paying considerably more for fuel than their city counterparts.

“Both John Cobb and I have received a number of calls in recent days from motorists outraged by the current cost of petrol,” Mr Toole said.

“The best way we can see this issue addressed is for customers to make complaints to the ACCC.

“The more complaints the ACCC receives, the more it will be under pressure to act.”

Mr Cobb said the carbon tax would affect the cost of production, distribution and retailing of fuel, putting upward pressure on petrol prices.

“Just like groceries and household bills, petrol prices will not be immune from the world’s biggest carbon tax, and families in Calare will be paying even more for fuel,” he said.

“Last week in parliament, the treasurer Wayne Swan refused to repeat or endorse the prime minister’s assertion that ‘petrol prices won’t be touched by carbon pricing’.”

Motorists can make a complaint to the ACCC by phone on 1300 302 502 or by email at [email protected]

GOING UP: Member for Calare John Cobb and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole say the cost of fuel will rise even further with the introduction of the carbon tax.

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Chamber takes the online plunge

The Bathurst Business Chamber is moving into the 21st century with the launch of its first website today.
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Chamber president Angus Edwards said the chamber has been talking about setting up a website for the past three years, adding that is wonderful to finally see it up and running.

The launch will be held at Bathurst Council Chambers and will be performed by mayor Greg Westman.

Mr Edwards said the website will contain a live news feed, which will include Facebook posts.

There will also be a members directory to allow chamber members to promote their businesses, with links to their contact details and web pages.

An updated list of events will be posted with the provision to register online, while an online membership payment service will also be available.

Information on changing legislation, media releases, and links to interesting media articles and news from the NSW Business Chamber have also been included.

The web page will be public, but will also include a

members’ only section.

“We want to make sure we are getting all the relevant information through to our members,” Mr Edwards said.

“It’s pretty exciting. We have been talking about doing this forever.”

The Bathurst Business Chamber web page has been designed locally.

The chamber also has a less formal Facebook page.

“It is important to make sure the Bathurst Business Chamber has an online presence so new businesses to town can keep up to date,” Mr Edwards said.

Today’s launch will be attended by chamber members, councillors and council staff.

IN THE WEB: Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards gets ready for today’s launch of the new chamber website. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 070412chamber

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High price for a quick chat

THE practice may be a regular sight on Bathurst’s roads, but it seems most motorists are getting off scot-free when it come to talking on their mobile phones while driving.
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Fewer than 180 motorists across the whole Chifley local area command have been charged with using a handheld mobile phone while driving since July last year.

But new figures published on the NSW Office of State Revenue website show that drivers who are caught paying a high price for their misdemeanour.

Chifley highway patrol officers wrote 133 tickets for drivers caught talking on their mobile phone between July 2011 and May 2012, pumping a total of $35,245 into the state’s coffers.

In addition, Bathurst sector officers wrote 21 tickets worth a total of $5565 and Lithgow sector officers 20 tickets worth a total of $5388.

But the figures also reveal the impact of an industrial campaign by NSW police officers last November and December, when they refused to respond to non-emergency calls as part of a pay dispute with the state government.

In the two months just nine tickets were written by Bathurst, Lithgow and Chifley highway patrol officers – well down on the monthly average of almost 20. By comparison, last August and September were the biggest months for officers, with more than 30 tickets written in each month.

The past year’s figures include three tickets issued to P-platers or L-platers caught using a mobile phone while driving. Each was fined $265 for the offence.

BAD MIX: Chifley highway patrol officers wrote 133 tickets for drivers caught talking on their mobile phones while driving between July 2011 and May 2012.

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Forget Machu Picchu, this is my holy grail

The noise is unmistakable, even when you don’t expect to hear it. It’s a gentle roar that rises every now and again; it bubbles with passion.
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It seems so out of place here in the market, where most of the sounds are of vendors entreating you to relieve them of their wares. Below that is the normal hubbub of tourists stocking up on their Peruvian souvenirs, the colourful beanies and mass-produced T-shirts.

But deep in the background there’s that noise, that distant hum of action, so I decide to follow it, to see if it really is what I think it is.

Out on the street it’s been raining – the river here in Aguas Calientes is as strong as ever, rushing past the town with a promise of violence that seems strange in such a beautiful place. Slip in there at this time of year, during the rainy season, and you’d be in serious trouble.

Bus after bus rolls through the little town’s narrow streets, dropping passengers off and preparing to ferry yet another load up the hill to Machu Picchu, the sight everyone is here to see. Brakes groan, doors squeak, people file on and off.

There’s no other reason to come to Aguas Calientes, nothing else to do here but wander through those tourist markets and select something to remind you of your visit to Machu Picchu. It’s a Sunday afternoon but it’s business as usual in town – the tourist trade here never sleeps.

The sound seems like it’s coming from up the hill, away from the train tracks and the main square. Not many gringos make it up there, because there’s no reason to. There are just a couple of local restaurants of questionable quality and blocks of apartments. Nothing much to see.

I’m almost certain I’m right now – the sound has joy in it, and passion, but also a little fury. Two kids dash past me on the cobbled alley, making their way up the hill, and I’m sure it’s what I think it is.

Sure enough, I round one last corner, past one more block of flats, and there in the middle of Aguas Calientes, not two blocks from the tourist markets and the bars but hidden in another world, is the local football pitch. It’s perched on the hillside right in among the city, carved between the buildings and alleys and squares.

The noise is from the crowd, the large group of locals who’ve gathered outside the high wire fences that surround the pitch to cheer on their local team. No one pays any mind to the gringo in their midst – they’re engrossed in the game, in chatting to each other, in eating their food and drinking their beers.

It might sound stupid but I’ve found my holy grail.

This morning I’d been in Machu Picchu, the Incan ruins that must top more bucket lists than almost any sight in the world. It had been fascinating, of course. A lifelong highlight. But I like my culture living and breathing, which is why I’m just as happy having stumbled upon a local football game as I was stumbling across ancient ruins just a few hours earlier.

This is fun. I can’t even tell which team is the local one, until the guys in blue score a goal and no one cheers. Right, so we’re going for the pink team then. The people around me don’t seem too bothered by the score – this is a social event, the game comes second.

I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m not joining in the conversation, but still, there are few global unifiers quite like football. Put it up there with music, or dance, or food, or a simple smile. Doesn’t matter where you go in the world, if you know football, you’ve got something in common with everyone.

I know when to cheer. I know who the bad guys are. I know we hate the referee. And I know that here, very briefly, until the guy in black blows the final whistle, I won’t be treated as a tourist. I’ll just be a fan.

The setting is spectacular. The Andes rise steep and imposing on all sides of the narrow valley. The synthetic pitch is a raw, striking green among the drab greys and browns on the buildings.

The crowd, perched on concrete benches or standing with fingers curled around the wire fencing, is a sea of colour, from their beanies to their knock-off football jerseys of teams from around the world. They’re still chatting, or cheering, or some even singing.

With just a couple of minutes to go, the pink team – our team – scores, sending the crowd wild. The guy on the bench next to me throws an arm around my shoulders, gives a high salute to the gods of the beautiful game. I’m doing exactly the same.

You don’t expect to top a visit to Machu Picchu in a lifetime, let alone that same day. But strangely enough, I might have.

Do you prefer interacting with locals to seeing the sights when you travel? What have your memorable experiences been? Post a comment below and share your stories.

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ADF abuse claims will shock some: Smith

The report suggests there has been a lack of action in cases of abuse within the Defence Force.Defence Minister Stephen Smith has publicly released a damning report into allegations of abuse within the Defence Force, warning the contents ”will shock some people”.
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The report, coming in at more the 1500 pages, has been prepared by law firm DLA Piper.

The review received ”within scope” claims of sexual and other forms of abuse from 847 people, dating back to 1951 and as recently as 2011.

Mr Smith today said the government was close deciding how it will respond to the allegations of abuse and that a royal commission was still an option.

Extracts of the report were first released by Mr Smith earlier this year, and last month the full 24-page executive summary was released to ABC TV’s 7.30 program under freedom of information laws.

The full report – released today – includes findings such as:”From the 1950s through to the early 1980s, many boys aged 13, 14, 15 and 16 years of age in the ADF suffered abuse including serious sexual and other physical abuse”; and”It is certain that many young females in the ADF have been subjected to serious sexual and physical assault and other serious abuse inflicted.”

The report also finds that it is “likely” that a “substantial” number of victims of abuse or assault within the ADF have not reported the assault to anyone.

It also suggests that there has been a lack of action in cases of abuse. The report notes that Lieutenant Colonel Northwood working in parallel with the Grey Review identified 24 cases of rape at ADFA in the late 1990s. “It seems that none of the matters went to trial,” the report said.

The firm also found that “it is possible” that male cadets who raped female cadets in the late 1990s and other cadets who witnessed the assaults and did not intervene may “now be in ‘middle’ to ‘senior’ management positions in the ADF”.

Mr Smith commissioned the review last year after an 18 year-old cadet alleged she was filmed and broadcast over Skype while having sex with a fellow cadet. In the wake of the ”Skype Scandal”, Defence was inundated with other allegations of abuse.

The government has been considering a range of responses to the allegations, including an apology and compensation. Today, Mr Smith confirmed a royal commission was still ”on the table”.

”[We are] not too far away from making final conclusions in this area,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Mr Smith said the release of further material today underlined the ”serious and concerning” nature of the review’s findings.

More to come

 

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