Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
ABC Midday Report -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions)

This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. Today, the Federal Government suspends the importation of green prawns after an outbreak of White Spot Disease. Indonesia appears to back down on a military decision to suspend defence cooperation with Australia. The Health Minister faces scrutiny over a decision to purchase property during a taxpayer funded trip. And a new study shows living by a major road can increase your risk of developing dementia.

Hello, Kathryn Robinson with ABC News. The Federal Government is taking action against a major prawn importer following an outbreak of a devastating disease which is threatening the industry in Queensland. The white spot disease has contaminated several prawn farms on the Logan River between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Federal Agriculture Minister and deputy PM Barnaby Joyce says the disease is not dangerous to human, but is deadly for prawns. We have about a $360 million a year prawn industry and we got the detection of white spot disease, or what we thought was white spot disease back in November, around November 22. On December 1, it was confirmed that it was white spot disease and yesterday, it was made aware to me, I was told, that they're detecting white spot in imported green prawns that you buy in the shop for human consumption. But that, for me, is a huge concern because I know what happens. People have a tendency if they run out of prawns to use them as bait. It means that they get into the waterways. It means that it can infect the prawn farms. So what we are doing and I've talking to Canberra yesterday to deal with this issue and what we are now... After talking to the secretary of my department who holds the authority in this area, not me, we are going to have a suspension on the importation of green prawns into Australia to try to get on top of this issue straight away. What I can say to people - if you're buying green prawns or you bought green prawns from the retail outlets, please do not put them in the waterway or use them as bait. They're bought for human consumption. If you cook a prawn, it kills the white spot. We're not saying that the white spot in this case came from imported green prawns, but there is a possibility that it could have and we have to make sure that the possibility is removed. Cooks prawns that come in don't have white spot so there's no ban on them and obviously areas in Australia - the vast Mori of the coastline is free from white spot, so they're -- the vast majority of the coastline is free from white spot so it is just for the green prawns that are uncooked. If it's not cooked, then we don't have the capacity to kill the virus. If they are cooked, it does kill the virus so there is still the capacity for the importation of cooked prawns. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce there. And Nick Moore says that the industry flagged the problem two years ago.The importation of raw prawns into Australia was a vector that we've been highlighting for the Australian prawns farmers association for many years and unfortunately, while I absolutely applaud the Government bouncing on it right now, it would have been nice a couple of years ago. Indonesia has apparently backed down over its suspension of military cooperation with Australia. The move comes after a flurry of contradictory statements from Indonesia's leaders. Indonesia correspondent Adam Harvey has more. General Gatot Nurmantyo's decision to suspend military operations surprised his own Government and came as a shock to Australia. He's told Indonesian media how offended he was by material presented at a training course in Australia. Presented not just by the lecturer, but by the students as well. TRANSLATION: The curriculum and the lessons, as well as the result of the curriculum and the assignment paper of the students were insulting. It hurt so much, I don't need to explain it here. It was about an officer in the past and East Timor and Papua needing independence. Stgl after the general's decision created headlines for 24 hoursAnd prompted all sorts of confusion in two country, top Indonesian Cabinet minister Wiranto came in over the top and said that the suspension was only ever about a language course. He blamed the media. Relations will now hopefully be reset, although the whole affair has prompted a closer look at General Gatot. The ABC has uncovered these extraordinary comments he made about Chinese refugees. TRANSLATION: If they ever come to my place, they will come by sea. Once they cross the ocean, I will butcher ten cows in the middle of the ocean. The sharks will definitely gather. After that, I will shoot at them, just by using small weapons so they leak and they all can be eaten by sharks.Relations between Australia and Indonesia might be a bit banged up by all this, but both nations are now free to take part in military exercises next month. Defence reporter Andrew Greene says that the Indonesian military chief is taking a hardline towards Australia.He has featured prominently in Indonesia. He's been going on road shows and giving speeches for some time now and speaking to one defence official who had been planning to head to Indonesia towards the end of last year, he said that his trip was put off because officials in Indonesia - Australian officials - had detected that there was this rhetoric against Australia, so it was probably not a good time to head over. Now, of course, his comments, while they were perhaps well known to an Indonesian audience, they're now very well known to Australia given the drastic action. So I think the emerge yens of General Gatot Nurmantyo for Australia is something that will be a -- emergence of General Gatot Nurmantyo for Australia is something that will be a lasting incident, but the other thing that we will be familiar with now is the high level of cooperation that Australia has, particularly at a special forces level with Indonesia and all the joint training exercises. It was probably not very well known publicly that troops come to Australia are regularly and train at SAS headquarters. Now it's a well-known fact.So did Gatot Nurmantyo's comments play into a broader political context in Indonesia, rather than being particularly directed at Australia? Because he's made similar comments about other nation, hadn't he? That's right, he's someone who is very outspoken about foreign militaries, be it the United States or China, which Australia has a common interest with Indonesia on, given the expansion of Chinese territory in the South China Sea. But yes, General Gatot is someone who is a political player and someone that we don't see in the Australian system. We don't see our military leaders being quite as political as we see General Gatot in Indonesia. And of course, there has been a history, over decades, of Indonesian military glecing its muscle in a political -- flexing its muscle in a political sense. So perhaps we're not going to see any drastic thing like a coup or Gatot trying to seize power, but certainly, he has been speaking on a much broader range of topics than an Australian military leader traditionally would.So is this generally being seen as him having gone a bit rogue and is he a likely political competitor, or has -- or are they comfortable having them part of the team?We can really only go off the public statements and the very initial statements from the Indonesian president once the suspension was made public was that he was distancing himself from it. He was definitely saying that this was a decision solely of the military chief. Since then, we've heard other language from President Joko Widodo where he's talked about this being a matter of principle, but at the same time, as you say, we've seen the senior Indonesian Cabinet minister, Wiranto, issue that statement where he really downplays the level of the military suspension. So like a lot of our dealings with Indonesia, things aren't entirely clear. It's still being worked out and that is really the task now tore Australian diplomats and Australian military leaders to go over and to iron out exactly what this means. We already know that there is a big effort under way from the Australian military and that will involve the army chief, Angus Campbell, heading to Jakarta soon. The Australian Army insists that it is not to go over to issue an apology but I suspect that there will be diplomacy on that trip. Overseas now and the United States' head of intelligence has told a Senate hearing that Russia poses a major threat to US interests and has promised to produce more evidence of the Kremlin's interference in the election. President-elect Donald Trump has been sceptical of conclusions Russia sought to influence the election in his favour. James Clapper will get to put his case to Mr Trump when he meets him tomorrow. Here's our North America correspondent. US spy chiefs broadened the set of accusations against Russia and they said that they're more resolute than ever that the Kremlin sought to influence the US presidential election. The hearings went for quite a while today, just over two hours, and here's a little of what the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, had to say when he was spelling out exactly what Russia did.This was a multifaceted campaign, so hacking was only one part of it and it also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.They say today that they gave President Barack Obama the classified version of the report and that he's getting briefings on it and we expect him to make some comments on that over the coming days. A declassified version that we expect to be highly reduced, the spies say to protect sources and expensive infrastructure that they put in place, will be released next week. They've promised that there will be a motive there. The intelligence agencies are also meeting with Donald Trump, President-elect, tomorrow. He's cast doubt and been highly sceptical about claims that Russia was involved in hacking and some of the aides thought that it was just Democrats trying to delegitimise his victory. He appeared to get a bit of a rebuke from a senior Republican in the Senate, Lindsey Graham. Here's the advice he had for Mr Trump ahead of the meeting tomorrow.Ladies and gentlemen t is time now not to throw pebbles but to throw rocks. I wish we were not here. If it were up to me, we would all live in peace, but Putin is up to no good and he better be stopped and Mr President-elect, when you listen to these people, you can be sceptical, but understand they're the best among us and they're trying to protect us. Completely contrasting positions in just a day. Just yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump was questioning how strong the case was and whether intelligence officials were adequately prepared and suggested they were scrambling to prepare for the meeting with him. He retweeted Julian Assange's comments that the source of the hacks was definitely not Russia. But just this morning, he said that he was a big fan of intelligence. So I suppose we can expect more tweets tomorrow after his meeting and we'll have to wait and see what he has to say. Defence and security commentator Alan Beam joins me from Canberra now. Good afternoon and thank you for your time. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is resolute that this was a multifaceted campaign by the Russians. His words suggest that this classified evidence is quite compelling.Look, when the heads of the security agencies, in this case the DNO, Director of National Intelligence, and the NSA, when they open their mouths and say in public that they have evidence for their position, you can rely on the fact that that is what they've got. President-elect Donald Trump has been similarly resolute, though, in saying that Russia had nothing to do with it and that he... Well, he was sceptical that Russia had anything to do with it and he's been busy on Twitter in the last 24 hours saying as such.Government and Twitter is a new phenomena. I don't know what the grounds of the scepticism might be. He doesn't appear to have any evidence to the contrary, to that of James Clapper. The President is playing an all together different game. He's playing a political game against the Democrats rather than playing into the national security space which is what this trouly is about. So I think that the President is playing quite a dangerous game here because he appears to discredit the credibility of the very agencies which are going to advise him as president.So, if he is handed irrefutable evidence tomorrow when he meets with the DNI, what does that position leave him in?He will Spain it to say that the DNI is a great bloke and the evidence was interesting evidence and it will have to be pushed further. There are many techniques for spinning this issue out and President-elect Donald Trump is extremely good at that. But the more fundamental issue is that this is not just about hacking, this is really about the security relationship between the United States and Russia. And that is a space that the President-elect is going to have to work into very carefully and his critical advisors are going to be the State Department and the Pentagon backed up by the evidence produced by the intelligence agencies. And that's something that he must learn quickly to understand and appreciate.This is all playing out on a very public stage in full view for the Russians to view this theatre, as such. How do you think they'd be viewing this? I think they'd be rubbing their hands gleely and getting into their third or fourth vodka for the day! It is an extraordinary scene that plays very well into the kind of disruptive and contrary politics that Putin is so good at. So what Putin is doing, I think, is playing off the contrary nature of Trump himself and really, I think that that plays very handsomely into the way in which the Russians conduct their international relations, not only across Europe but across the rest of the world in general. It's a dangerous time I think for the United States and President Trump does have to lift his game a little bit.Finally, how do you think that this will impact on reelses between the intelligence officials and Donald Trump post-inauguration?That is a really lovely question. I think what will happen is that President Trump, and he's no fool, I mean, he's a very successfulman. He'll -- successful businessman. He'll work quickly to come to accommodation with his policy and intelligence advisors but I think that the sooner he does that the better it will be both for him and for the United States more generally. Good to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you. New South Wales Health is warning the public to be alert to the symptoms of measles after a passenger travelled on an international flight from Bali to Sydney while infectious. The young woman travelled on a Virgin Australia flight from Denpasar to Sydney on New Year's Day. The woman also visited the Sutherland hospital emergency department on January 4th while infectious. Health authorities say that measles is highly contagious and symptoms must be reported. Another four cases were reported in December, but this incident is not linked. An impulse purchase is how the Health Minister is explaining her decision to buy a luxury apartment on a tax payer funded trip. Sussan Ley bought the unit on the Gold Coast during an official business trip in 2015. The Opposition says she needs to immediately justify the trip or resign. For more, we're joined live from Parliament House in Canberra by political reporter er -- by our political reporter. Can you tell us more about this trip?In May 2015, the Health Minister was in Brisbane and held a press conference at a hospital where she announced $1.3 billion in Government spending but it is the spending that afternoon that has her in hot water. She travelled down to the Gold Coast and it is there that she bought a luxury apartment overlooking Main Beach for nearly $800,000. Her office says that her trip to the Gold Coast was to meet with stake holders, to discuss access to medicine and that all of her travel was within the allowances, but she did bill tax payers for the trip. She charged them $1,500 and her office is refusing to say who she met with on the Gold Coast that made it part of that official business trip. Let's have a listen to what Barnaby Joyce had to say about this a little earlier.On the issue of Minister Ley, look, we don't concoct a $1.3 billion medical announcement. She was there for work and had other work to do. The fact that this happened concurrently is not the reason that she went there. She went there for a $1.3 billion announcement and that's part of the job.Now, the Opposition is demanding that she explain the trip. What exactly do they want answered? That's exactly right. Sussan Ley's office says that the purchase wasn't planned, nor anticipated in any way. So essentially, it was an impulse purchase of an $800,000 apartment and the Opposition is crying foul saying if she was there for business on the Gold Coast, she needs to immediately release her diaries to say who she was with, what the purpose of the meeting with them was and to provide evidence and justification for that and they're saying that if she can't, she needs to resign or Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister, needs to sack her. Has she broken any rules?The travel was within the allowances but the ministerial code say that is while your public life may impinge at times on your personal life, your personal life should never impact on your public life. So whether she's broken rules remains to be seen. They say that they's not there, just that she needs to answer questions in order to prove that she hasn't broken the rules. The Federal Opposition has slammed the Government for its debt recovery program after Centrelink stepped up its approach to chasing welfare overpayments. It's cross-checking information with the Tax Office to figure out who has been overpaid welfare and sending letters to people it believes owes money. But the Government has conceded that one in five people who received the notification don't actually owe anything. It is no wonder that the person who was brought in to oversee the government's information tech followingy interaction across the departments has described this debacle as cataclysmic. It is no wonder that if it is a private business, that admitted that 20% of the letters at least were on a false basis, then they'd be put out of business. Now, it's about time that Malcolm Turnbull got on top of this issue.The Australian people expect that we have a social services system where people can receive the benefit that they're entitled to. If you're unemployed or you have a disability and Australian people also expect that the Federal Government will be looking at what is tax payer money and will have systems in place so that if money has been paid in circumstances where the recipient was not entitled to receive it, then there is a process to recover it. Four people in the US city of Chicago are facing hate crime and kidnapping charges accused of torturing a mentally disabled man in a session aired on Facebook Live. In an assault that went on for two days, the 18-year-old victim was bound, gagged and beaten. The suspects, who were all African American, are aged between 18 and 24. In the video, the suspects are heard making derogatory comments about white people and Donald Trump. Chicago police have described the incident as sickening.Let me be very clear - the actions in that video are reprehensible ar that, along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else for that matter against anyone regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health or any other identifying factor. There was never a question whether this incident qualified to be a hate crime. Back home now and a beach with over one million recyclable polyethylene balls will be one of the features of this year's Sydney Festival. The festival kicks off this weekend with 150 events. It's pouring rain in Sydney at the moment but at this beach, you would never know it. And if it was a sunny day, you wouldn't get sun burnt either. You're probably wondering what I'm talking about. So to explain more about it, I'm joined by Sydney Enoch here.We're at Barangaroo. It's all white.You're expecting people here because it is free every day?Yes, we're expecting almost 100,000 people to come through the ball pit over the Sydney festival.Fantastic. It's one of many events. Talk me through the numbers?There's 153 separate events of which at least half of them are free. So people can enjoy the city and buy tickets to some of the best theatre and dance and music of the world.You do have people coming from all over the place. Tell me about some of the highlights of the Sydney festival?Ladies in Black, the music is done by Tim Finn and directed by Simon Phillips who did Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And another doing Shakespeare with another talking about contemporary Moscow. And there is another free outdoor stage that you can enjoy music and dance and DJs all throughout January.It sounds like there's something for everybody. And we might stay and enjoy this and we'll say - back to you! If you're watching television this summer, it's hard not to nts ads around the ground and during the ad breaks for sports betting agencies. Associate Professor Samantha Thomas has been studying the effects of the ads, particularly on children.With he do a lot of work out in the community -- we do a lot of work out in the community at local football clubs, stand outside the major stadiums talking to kids about what they know about gambling and what they see about the marketing of gambling during sport. And what we found in the research is that kids not only have an incredibly high recall of brand names, but also an incredibly high recall of the details, the creatives, the plotlines and the incentives and inducements within ads and that creates a real concern for us because what we're seeing is a very quick normalisation trajectory for that. So inducements are things that may encourage people to bet more than they normally would and on things that they wouldn't normally bet on. They're things like bonus bets, cash back refunds and most people watching TV will see those regularly during the ads within sport. And kids we used to think talked about sport in terms of the odds where they first started having the discussion about gambling and sport and the impact on kids. Now what we see with kids is that kids will clearly tell us about the deals that they see and one of the things that we know with kids is that they generally say to us now that they think they'll bet on sport, not if they're at good odds but if they get a good deal from a book Wii will encourage them to bet. I don't know if you remember but many years ago when Stephen Conroy was the minister, one of the things that they talked about with live betting odds or stopping the ads during the match was that people would have the opportunity to then get up and walk away from the ads if they didn't want to watch them. What we find with kids is that kids stay locked in place, so like me, I have two little boys. I'll get up and I'll be on Twitter or social media or making a cup of tea or getting on with dinner. My kids stay locked in place and that means that they have a very high level of exposure to ads right the way through the events and matches. We also know that there's a loophole at the moment in the regulation which we really want to get closed and that means that gambling ads are banned during children's viewing hours before the watershed unless they're played within a current affairs program or a sporting match. And of course, when do we see most of the gambling adds? On a Saturday afternoon watching the cricket or the footy. Let's look at the business news now with Sue Lannin. And shares in the operator of Dreamworld have plunged after it updated the market today? Of course, Dreamworld is where there was a fatal accident back in October. It says that revenues have slumped since it reopened in December. On that news, the shares fell but they've since picked up again. Ardent Leisure said that it made $4 million from the park in the last few weeks of December but that's down nearly two thirds from the same time a year ago. The company's shares have plunged nearly 7% and since recovered. It says the progressive reopening of rides affected revenue and attendance. Four people were killed at the amusement park in October when the raft collided with another on the ride.Turning attention to gas price and manufacturing are complaining about the rise in prices there?Yes, it's a looming gas shortage because of a rise in LNG exports and manufacturing are saying that they have to pay more and they fear that it will get worse in the middle of the year. While Australia is set to become one of the biggest LNG producers in the world, most of the natural gas is being exports ported, which -- exported, which is causing a domestic shortage. Manufacturing Australia says it is expecting more price rises and warns that there could be times even when gas is not available. The group says jobs are at risk in industries which rely on gas such as glass producers, brick makers and cement manufactures. D says consumers also face more price increases.And finally, the Aussie market has shrugged off a fairly weak lead from Wall Street?Yes, so got boosted at about 11:30 because new trade figures came out and Australia surprisingly has a trade surplus in November of $1.24 billion. That's billion. That's according to the Bureau of Statistics. Looking at the figures now:

More revelations from the company about deciding to sell the controlling stake at a big discount. Looking at Asia now:

US stocks made the first loss of the year as big banks and big department stores were sold off on disappointing holiday sales. The Dow Jones index fell nearly 0.25% but the NASDAQ closed at a record high boosted by online retailer. To commodities now:

Many thanks. A day of extreme heat is forecast for South Australia today with temperatures hitting 40 degrees. That's prompted the State Emergency Service to give advice packs on coping with the high temperatures to incoming international travellers. Overseas passengers are arriving and it is expected to top 40 degrees here in Adelaide. Tomorrow 41. That's just in the city. Elsewhere around the state, it could be even hotter. So the State Emergency Service has been here this morning greeting passengers with a bottle of water and a pamphlet about how to beat the heat. Extreme heat accounts for more deaths than any other natural hazard here in Australia. And the SES wants people coming from overseas, especially from some cold climates like Europe, to stay safe. For the visitor, we want to make sure that they're dressing to the climate and some people could be coming in with scarves and woolly jumpers and as they come in, we want them to think about maybe flip-flops. They also urge Australians to stay safe. We're out of practice with heat waves this summer. So far, we've had more wind and rain.The only 40 degree day we've had so far is Christmas day so the SES is telling everyone to take care and drink plenty of water and keep an eye on those who might be vulnerable. Let's take a quick look at the weather around the

These are the top stories on ABC News. Indonesia appears to have backed down from a suspension with all military cooperation with Australia. A Cabinet minister I says that the suspension only applies to language classes at special facilities. 24 hours earlier, Indonesia's military chief announced a halt of all military cooperation. The top US intelligence chief says he's resolute in his belief that Russia staged cyber attacks during the US election rebuking scepticism from President-elect Donald Trump about whether Moscow was involved. The director of national intelligence James Clapper told Congress said that Russian President Vladimir Putin oorded the hacking of -- ordered the hacking of the emails. The Opposition have called for Health Minister Sussan Ley to resign if she can't explain why they purchased a property while on trip to Queensland and travelled to the Gold Coast where she bought a luxury apartment. People who live near major roads could be at greatest risk of demeantia. That's according to a decade long study by scientists in Canada who say one in ten cases are linked to living by a busy road. Air pollution and noise - two of the downsides of living near a major road. But a greater likelihood of getting dementia - well, that's the theory behind a new study.This research shows for pretty much the first time, there is a link between living near a busy main road. So a busy A road or a dual carriageway and having an increased risk for dementia, which, I think, show that is this could be a new risk factor we hadn't really considered before. A study of $2 million Canadians found around 10% of dementia cases in urban areas could be linked to exposure to heavy traffic. The researchers found that living within 50m of a major road increased the risk of dementia by 7% to 11%. At 100m, the increased risk was 4%. Leeds is like any urban centre - congested and polluted. Keeping the mind active is one of the benefits of this crossword club, so are members worried that city living could be harming them.I try to live a healthy lifestyle. I eat well and I exercise regularly, and yet, you know, you can just by living near a main road, you can do yourself a great deal of damage. That is concerning.It wouldn't be a great shock to me in the same way that unleaded petrol was introduced. 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. The origins of the condition are not well understood. This research doesn't prove that heavy traffic causes dementia. It makes a fascinating link that requires further investigation. But there are already many reasons to avoid the polluted air in our cities. It can cause serious breathing difficulties and trigger a heart attack or stroke in those already at risk. Last year, British scientists found tiny pollution particles in samples of brain tissue - another hint that there may be a link between traffic and neuro degenerative conditions. For now, the best advice to reduce the risk is to exercise and eat healthily. And CEO of Alzheimer's Australia joins me now from Melbourne. Good morning to you.Good morning to you. So hearing this sort of information, what would you expect your organisation to do with it?This research is certainly an area that we've not looked at before, necessarily. And I think that the thing that's really important and that they talked about is the importance of risk regular duction strategies so making sure that people exercise regularly, that they eat well, that they stay socially engaged and connected and when I say exercise, exercise your brain as well as your body. And Alzheimer's Australia has a website called Your Brain Matters and we really encourage people to have a look at the things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia, even in the earlier stages of dementia when risk reduction strategies can prevent the exasker bation of symptoms.So, would -- exasker -- exacerbation of it. Does living on a busy road increase the risk or not? . The study did a really great job on trying to include things liar air pollutants and noise pollutants but it wasn't conclusive.And it certainly needs a lot more research into that area. And no, we wouldn't be advocating to people that they move from living next to a major road. It may be related to other factors. It may be that people who live near major roads come from a lower socioeconomic group and studies show that, unfortunately, people in a lower socioeconomic group are more prone to chronic conditions like demeantia.So how would you go about advocating research centres and perhaps even government bodies, to research these initial links at the very early stages to take them forward?Well, the research into dementia is incredibly important and over the last couple of years, there's been an increase in the funding to actually be able to provide more research into dementia. And I think it's really important that we do broaden the scope that we currently look at and environmental factors may play a part and it is really important that we identify that if that's the case and then work out how to best manage that. The report suggested that busy roads, noise pollution and air pollution could be an environmental stressor that may give rise to dementia. What are the other type of environmental stresses that people need to look out for and perhaps mitigate?One of the things around noise pollution and air pollution are the challenges for your cardiovascular health and what we know and what research shows is that what's good for your heart is good for your brain. So making sure that we increase our exercise. That we have an active and enjoyable social life. They're the sorts of things. Eating well is really important. Looking after our vascular health like making sure that our blood pressure and cholesterol are at healthy levels and they're the sorts of things that we advocate doing. Thank you very much for your time. Top US intelligence officials have called Russia a major threat to America's interests during Senate hearing into alleged cyber attacks before the 2016 presidential election. The head of intelligence, James Clapper, said that the level of alleged hacking by Russia was the most aggressive ever seen. This was the first public examination of claims Russia was involved in hacking the US presidential election. Senior figures from the intelligence community called in front of a Senate committee chaired by senior Republican John McCain.That it compromised emails from US persons and institutions and political organisations. They also assess that "Disclosures of alleged hacked emails were consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian directed efforts and that these thefts and disclosures were intended to interfere with the US election process."The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who will leave office in days, says he has no doubt hacking was ordered at the highest level.Russia has clearly assumed cyber posturing by increasing cyber operations, leaking data stolen from the operations and targeting critical infrastructure systems.US intelligence experts insist that Russia was behind the hacking of the democratic national committee and also the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chief. And the releasing of that information through WikiLeaks. Some insist that the leaks were so damaging that it may actually have swayed the election. But President-elect Donald Trump has rejected the idea of Russian hacking and has been scathing of the US intelligence community. Prompted by a question from a democratic question, James Clapper insisted that was unhelpful.I think that there is an important distinction here between healthy scepticism, which policy makers, to include policy maker number one, should always have for intelligence, but I think there's a difference between scepticism and disparagement.The US has already expelled 35 Russians it believes are linked to the hacking and insists that further action will follow. But as time moves on, the action will be the responsibility of the new president. With the new year upon us, it's always a good time to have a look into the crystal ball and see what is going to be trending this year. And are there trends in gardening? Let's find out with Costa. Now, condition costa, you're looking very relaxed since we saw you last week. You were in Melbourne last week. Yeah, I've come back to Sydney. I actually caught up with a friend of mine last night and he said - come for an early surf so that's why I'm looking pretty relaxed and he was catching more waves than me and he said - well, your surfing is not getting a workout but he mentioned that I was getting a good case of falaso therapy. That's a Greek order preening association. So basically, there's a lot of research being done, and I mean, people have gone to baths and hot springs and things for years because of the therapeutic benefits but there's more research being done about the benefits of going to the beach and being in the ocean, so I was in deep therapy this morning and I can say that I felt relaxed, rhythm of the surfing. There's research that's been done into the impact of the rhythm and all of the benefits for skin by being in the salt water for excema and things like that and the benefits of a cold that it stimulates all of the nerves. And I must say, when the north-easterly kicked in and the wind was blowing, I was the only one out there just in my board shorts.In your therapy, going a bit mad?But that's one area of therapy that is worth looking into. Go for a swim or a surf or a walk.It really connects you p when you're at one with nature, almost. But there are other therapies that you were alluding to that are beyond the sea.Look, I wouldn't call it a trend, I would just call it a continued direction towards - not a peak, but just a growth, would be horticultural therapy. And it's an area that it's not just papers but a lot of research going into the benefits of being out in the garden and using gardening and plants and time outside as a way of healing and repairing.And not just for well people. It's being used in rehabilitation and in therapy. So what makes a garden therapeutic? That's interesting. Every garden as the therapeutic characteristics but if you had to set out and create a therapeutic garden, first of all, you'd have broad open paths because you want people to be able to get in there, particularly if they're on wheelchairs or beds or have limited access because of ailments or injuries. Then you can go into the details like plants. Now, the plants are your big range. You can get colour, you can get scent and you can get texture. But then you can use colour in other area sos whether that's splashing colour on pots, creating structures or shields to deflect light. There's lots of guys that you can bring colour into the garden and the therapeutic elements are established and most people wouldn't even realise that there's a lot of therapy even just going on in the balcony.Going on by walking around. Where are some of the therapeutic gardens being created and where can they be found? . I suppose the big area where they're being installed is hospitals.And healthcare units where people are getting occupational health treatment. School gardens are an incredible therapeutic garden for students that don't necessarily fit into the sit up straight in the classroom model. Then you have community gardens where people are coming as part of outreach groups and community groups where they bring people with disabilities or mental disabilities and handicaps. They can come along though those gardens and there's raised garden beds so it makes it easier for people to get involved and get the hands into the soil and pot something up and plant, or even just get access to the and Age sit there if they have very limited access. So schools, communities gardens and hospitals and healthcare unit.So they're probably more prolific than we actually know, you've just got to look out for them.That's right. And if the good thing is - if people have a look, the Australian horticultural therapy. New South Wales has Cultivate and Victoria has them. If they look up the organisations, get involved and look at ways that you can make your garden more therapeutic for yourself.Great tips there. Thank you so much for joining us.No worries, Catherine. When a Thai musician was forced to sell her prized instruments to fund the treatment of a dying relative, she feared it would be the end of a promising career, but a twist of fate saw an Australian man with a joint love of music rekindle her dreams. Our South East Asia correspondent has the story. Arin had just released an album and was on top of the world when the awful news came. Her mother had been diagnosed with late stage cancer. TRANSLATION: I tried everything. The modern medication and the alternative treatments. I told doctors to provide her with the best medicine they have.But the treatment was expensive and she decided to cash in on her most precious possessions. TRANSLATION: I started to sell my guitars and I thought - I'll keep at least one to play. But in the end, it wasn't enough so I had to sell them all.The sad story reached 79-year-old Australian Ray Ingram, who lives in Thailand.I could understand the loss of losing instruments.He was also coming to terms with not being able to play his most loved guitar after an infection left him with no feeling in his finger tips.So I thought, well, I'm sure that this young lady would like the guitar. I do know it's very old. My mother gave it to me when I was quite a young man.The offer of this vintage Spanish-made guitar came the day before her mother died.It is a gift from his mother. And I know that it is very important to him.I have to say that it has a beautiful tone. Which you do not get in a modern guitar. And I'm sure that my late mother would be very pleased to know that it's gone to someone who is extremely talented.While the old guitar gets some minor repairs, its new owner is practising on another donated instrument for a fundraising concert for cancer.

In just three weeks, the nation will find out who will be Australian of the Year for 2017. One those in the running is Victoria's Paris Aristotle. Mr Aristotle has spent decades advocating for the rights of refugees and survivors of trauma, and for his work, he's already been named the 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year. Obviously governments and the Parliament as a whole have to take primary responsibility for how they lead us through these sorts of complicated policy issues, with people like myself and others in this sector and other people who are concerned about these issues, also need to think hard about how they contribute to this discussion and what facts and information they throw into the mixment and how you do it. You know, you have choices in how you engage in the issues. You can do it in a constructive way that tries to project the real plight of the people and the importance of the need to provide appropriate protection for them. While also dealing with the fact that people smuggling is a hideous enterprise and they don't care about how many people make it and often times, many people don't. The figure of 1200 is being used many times of people drowning. Well, I'm positive that that figure is dramatically higher than that. That's just the figure that we know of. My area of specific expertise is working with people who were tortured. So helping refugees who were tortured before they came to Australia recover from the experiences and re-establish a new life for themselves here in Australia for themselves and their families. And I do that with an amazing group of people in my organisation as well as other people in the sector. When I started almost 30 years ago, there were no services, so we've built a national network of agencies, there's one in each state and territory now, that all function independently but we work together as a group. And it is recognised as one of the best national networks of services of this type anywhere in the world. And when you work with people who were detained, they may have been through electric shock treatment, they have been through systemic -- simmatic beatings and assaults and sexual assaults, the worst that you can imagine, they've been through it and you see them struggle with surviving that experience and then with the assistance that your staff and others are able to provide, find the courage to overcome that and make Australia home and go on to make a contribution to Australia in later years, that's a pretty special thing to be a part of. I'm very privileged to have been a part of that. Many of the country's top restaurants are featuring a new Australian fish on their menus. Known by Queensland fishermen as black kingfish, cobia is drawing plaudits from some top chefs who have dubbed it the wagyu of the sea. Landline's Pip Courtney has more. With three high-end restaurants and the catering contract for the Caulfield race track, Melbourne chef Ian Curly feeds thousands of diners every week. And he's fussy. The premium ingredients he buys have to tick a lot of boxes and he says cobia ticks them all.I actually love the taste of it and how clean it tastes. You want something new on your menu that's both sustainable and also interesting and Theresa Mays fantastic because you know, no disrespect to barramundi and salmon or anything like that, but it's kind of been done. And also, I'm not a big fan of stuff that he see in the supermarket. I think that it should be something that you go to a restaurant and it should be a little bit special.Which is just what Maria wants to hear. For her family company, Pacific Reef, they run the country's only cobia farm. She's been inspired by her media-shy father - a Greek migrant who started with one fish shop in outer Melbourne 40 years ago who went on to make millions in the gaming industry.What started out as an experiment, so to speak, ended up being a product that we now carry. You can see more of the story You can see more of the story
tonight on Taste of Landline tonight on Taste of Landline at 8:00 on ABC TV. The Flikerfest short Film Festival is credited with launching the film careers of many filmmakers with some entrantses going on to win Academy Awards. It gets under way today at Bondi Beach. The festival director say that is the event gives emerging directors the opportunity to cut their teeth with short films.We've had over 2,500 entries and whittled it down to over 122 short films. So very much a curated experience and some very exceptional talent out there in the short film form, both here in Australia and across the world for the Academy accredited competitions. Flickerfest began in the grounds of the Balmain high school in Sydney with nine short films and has undergone a bit of a metamorphosis since then. So many directors have started there. People like Wa why, ne Blair, wonderful Indigenous director who did the Saf -- Sapphires. Kate Shortland who did Law and Somersault. Rachel Ward who won a directing award at Flickerfest back in 1991. Just so many Australian directors who cut their teeth on short films coming through the festival. Very early, the magic needs to set in with the short film, so many do. I'm really looking for inspired films for creativity. We're not looking for Hollywood remakes. So story that is are human, that are insightful and say a lot about the contemporary experience, be it here in Australia or across the world, and of course, that are creative as well. The magic of cinema when all of the elements come together. Certainly, the digital revolution has meant that a lot more entries, a lot more accessibility and many diverse cultures. We have films this year from Myanmar that have screening in the festival so you know, that would not have been possible without the influx of digital tech tollingy -- technology within cinema and it's created diversity in the entries from here in Australia and from across the world, which is fantastic. Now let's take Now let's take a look at the day's weather. Still wet in the north. A monsoon low and a trough are generating rain and storms and strong winds as well in the north-west tropics and north-east of Queensland. Heavy falls are possible, particularly south of Broome. And that's as the tropical low moves over the Kimberley and into the Pilbara late today or into tomorrow. Hot in the south and weaker troughs drawing hot winds to WA, South Australia and western New South Wales while a front is bringing strong winds to south-west WA. The top temperatures for today: Heavy rain possible for Townsville and 31. Brisbane a shower or two. Sydney a possible shower and 25. Mostly sunny for Canberra and Melbourne. Hobart partly cloudy and 25. Very hot in Adelaide and a sunny 40. Perth partly cloudy and 24. Broome, heavy falls and a possible storm. For Darwin, a shower or two and a possible storm. Taking a look at the rainfall for tomorrow. Much of the heavy rain over North Queensland will move offshore but still light to moderate falls possible. Heavy rain possible for the interior and eastern Pilbara. The outlook for the weekend. Brisbane showers and 28. Sydney a possible shower and 27. Sunny for Canberra and 31. Sunny for Melbourne. Hobart with 28 and very hot in Adelaide with 41 and partly cloudy there. Perth sunny and 28. Darwin a shower or two, a possible storm and 32. That is the latest from ABC News. I'm Kathryn Robinson. Thank you for your company.