Batkovic wins third straight WNBL MVP

Townsville Fire centre Suzy Batkovic has become the first player to win three successive WNBL Most Valuable Player awards, a feat even the great Lauren Jackson couldn’t manage.


Batkovic was voted the best player in the competition in each of the past two seasons while playing for the Adelaide Lightning.

The 33-year-old has been just as dominant in her first season with Townsville, finishing in the top five in points, rebounds, blocks and steals while leading the Fire into Sunday’s grand final against Bendigo.

Only Jackson (four MVPs in 1999-2000 and 2003-04) has won the MVP title more times than Batkovic – but the Opals superstar never claimed three in a row.

“To be honest, when I found out I was a little bit speechless, which doesn’t happen very often,” said the three-time Olympian.

“I was just blown away. I didn’t see it coming at all, but I’m really honoured to receive the award.”

Batkovic has previously won WNBL titles with the AIS in 1998-99 and the Sydney Uni Flames in 2001 and would love to claim a third crown with a third team.

The Fire will go in as underdogs against defending champions Bendigo as they chase what would be a first WNBL title for the North Queensland franchise.

“As you get older, you realise that it’s rare to make a grand final, and even more so to win one,” she said.

“Many great athletes go through their career and don’t win a championship. As you get older, you get hungrier for success.”

Batkovic polled 136 votes in the MVP.

Dandenong Rangers star Jenna O’Hea was second on 129 and Adelaide Lightning forward Laura Hodges was third with 116.

Qantas redundancies ‘half-baked’: union

Up to 4500 Qantas workers will be given till the end of March to take or leave a “half-baked” redundancy package, unions say.


Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW branch secretary Sally McManus said Qantas would issue the staff on Thursday with expressions of interest in redundancy.

“4500 Qantas staff are going to be given a slip of paper and be asked whether they want to go – that’s going to happen today,” Ms McManus told AAP.

She said although the deadline on the offer for most workers was the end of March, workers at Sydney international airport had a deadline of March 21.

“There’s either no plans about they want to do in those areas or half-baked plans, or bits of plans,” Ms McManus said.

“I think that basically (Alan) Joyce has made the announcement of the 5000 jobs and has told the managers `you go find them’.

“Really bad decisions could happen because of this haste.”

She said the union and Qantas would square off in the Fair Work Commission in Sydney on Thursday afternoon over the airline’s plans to shed up to 90 full-time check-in staff at Sydney international airport.

“That’s a hell of a lot of people as a percentage of that workforce,” Ms Sullivan said.

She said the union had asked the commission to intervene after meetings between the union and Qantas stalled on Wednesday.

“We tried to bring up alternative ideas at this rushed meeting and they dismissed them,” Ms McManus said.

Qantas said about 2500 workers would be asked if they wanted to take a voluntary redundancy, or in some cases, a part-time role.

“That doesn’t mean that all 2500 people will go – the number that leave the business will be much less than that,” a Qantas spokeswoman said in a statement.

“After employees have indicated if they want a voluntary redundancy we will review the applications and consult with those employees.”

She said the impacted workers would “not be leaving within weeks”.

“They will exit the business over April and early May,” she added.

Tribute to Senna from Carnival champions

Rio has elected the Unidos da Tijuca samba school as its Carnival champions, a 40-strong jury crowning a program which paid homage to late Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna.


The champions chose speed as their theme for their Monday parade, in which their 3,600-strong troupe honoured the memory of national idol Senna, killed in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix 20 years ago.

Unidos da Tijuca also paid tribute to Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, featuring a runner dressed in Jamaican kit during a parade which wowed 72,000 spectators at a packed Sambadrome.

The elite dance school, whose routine featured a Formula One car and mini race track, just pipped nearest rivals Salgueiro by one tenth of a point on Wednesday to land their third title in the past five years.

After the jury announced the result, having judged criteria such as samba style, costumes and floats, some 10,000 supporters of the champions gathered at their headquarters for an all-night celebration party.

Imperio da Tijuca were meanwhile relegated from the elite section after coming last.

Although this year’s Carnival officially ended Tuesday night, the top six schools will appear again in Saturday’s Champions’ Parade.

One of Rio’s oldest samba schools having been formed in December 1931, Unidos da Tijuca represent several slums or favelas in the western Tijuca area.

Some four million people, including 918,000 tourists, participated in this year’s Rio Carnival, the world’s biggest street party, featuring some 500 street parades as well as the two nights of elite parades.

Today’s birthday, March 24

For pictures please call AAP Images on 9322 8708 or visit the website at 南宁夜网.


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Today’s Birthday March 24: Australian-born actress Keisha Castle-Hughes (1990-)

Australian-born, New Zealand-raised schoolgirl Keisha Castle-Hughes received worldwide recognition after she was plucked from obscurity to star in the acclaimed movie Whale Rider.

Born on March 24, 1990 in Donnybrook, Western Australia, Castle-Hughes moved to New Zealand as young child and settled with her family in Mt Wellington.

She was a pupil at the local primary school when Whale Rider’s director, Niki Caro, and a casting agent chose her for the lead role.

Although she was a newcomer to acting, Castle-Hughes’s portrayal of the extraverted Paikea – a part-Maori youngster like herself – in the 2002 film brought her international fame and the praise of critics and audiences alike.

She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award when she was 13 years old, becoming the youngest actress ever in the running for the award. The Oscar was eventually won by the bookies’ favourite, Charlize Theron, for Monster.

Castle-Hughes has since shied away from the limelight but still acts, mostly in Australian and New Zealand films.

She did however, score a role as Regal in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005).

Two years later she had her first child, a daughter named Felicity-Amore.

The teen didn’t let motherhood stop her.

She starred in the films Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger in 2008, A Heavenly Vintage in 2009, and Red Dog in 2011.

In 2011 she started acting in the New Zealand series The Almighty Johnsons. She played Gaia on the show until last year.

On Valentine’s Day 2013 Castle-Hughes married DJ Jonathan Morrison after a whirlwind romance that began on Twitter.

China’s MMG in talks to acquire Las Bambas

MMG Ltd, the overseas arm of Chinese state-owned Minmetals, has confirmed it’s in talks with mining giant Glencore Xstrata to buy its Las Bambas copper mine project in Peru.


But Australia-based MMG admits there is no guarantee a deal will be agreed.

The company is part of a consortium bidding for the project which includes Hong Kong-registered Guoxin International Investment Corporation and China’s CITIC Metal.

If successful, it is estimated the acquisition would cost more than $US5 billion ($A5.54 billion) and would be China’s biggest mine deal, according to media reports.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, MMG said discussions were taking place with Glencore International AG — a subsidiary of Glencore Xstrata — about the acquisition of the mine.

“No binding agreement has been reached in connection with the acquisition. There is no assurance that a binding agreement will be reached by MMG in connection with the acquisition or the acquisition will materialise,” the statement added.

Swiss commodities trader Glencore secured Chinese backing for its May 2013 merger with mining giant Xstrata by agreeing to sell its interest in the Las Bambas copper mine project by the end of this September.

Chinese approval for the merger was the last one needed after the European Commission and South Afrian competition authorities gave the deal the green light.

The Las Bambas copper mines are not yet operational but it is estimated they will produce more than 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

China is the world’s biggest importer of the metal.

Super Rugby first as Japan test duo make Rebels squad

Japan, which will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is Asia’s rugby superpower and playing in its Top League has become a lucrative way for New Zealand and Australia internationals to end their careers.


The flow of players has not been all one way, though, and Horie and former Otago Highlanders scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka blazed the trail for Japan in Super Rugby when they made their debuts on the same evening last year.

New Zealand-born Sau joined the Rebels this season and looks set to make his debut in the southern hemisphere’s annual provincial competition at the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) this weekend after being named on the Rebels’ bench with Horie.

“Injury curtailed his start at the club but (Male) has slowly been gaining time on the training pitch and increased confidence and knowledge,” Melbourne’s coach Tony McGahan said in a news release.

“He is very keen to get some game time this weekend and show what he can do.

“We hadn’t thought about the fact that we might make history by playing two Japanese players when we picked the side, but it’s potentially a great achievement.

“It’s a global game, and to have two international Japanese players in the same side here in Melbourne is certainly exciting for the Super Rugby competition and Rebels fans.”

Sau’s selection in New Zealand’s world champion under-20 side in 2009 might undermine his Japanese credentials for some, but ACT Brumbies centre Harumichi Tatekawa’s lack of English language skills underline his.

Tatekawa was signed by the Brumbies on the recommendation of former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones and described by former Australia number eight and Kubota Spears coach Toutai Kefu as “the best Japanese player I’ve seen”.

Despite the Brumbies injury toll rising ahead of their home match against South Africa’s Stormers this weekend, Tatekawa was omitted from the squad for the clash on Thursday.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Vic premier not drawn on $70k for MP

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says it is hypothetical to suggest an outgoing MP will stand for an unwinnable spot to pocket $70,000 in taxpayer funds.


Jan Kronberg, one of three Liberal members for the upper house Eastern Metropolitan Region, won’t recontest her position in the November state election.

The decision conveniently opens up a vacancy for frontbencher Mary Wooldridge, who has been searching for a seat after hers was abolished in a boundary redraw last year.

The Liberal Party currently holds three positions in the region and Ms Kronberg’s retirement means Ms Wooldridge will not have to battle for a spot.

However, Dr Napthine has slapped down conjecture Ms Kronberg will stand for an unwinnable fourth position on the upper house eastern metropolitan ticket – a move reportedly allowing her to pocket $70,000 in taxpayer funds.

“I think that’s hypothetical,” he told a heated media conference on Thursday.

“Jan Kronberg said she would not be contesting the three positions that were advertised by the Liberal Party for the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

“It’s a decision for Jan Kronberg and the Liberal Party about her future.”

Dr Napthine said changes to parliamentary superannuation for most Australian MPs mid-last decade set up new rules for incoming members, and these were supported in a “bipartisan” way.

Ms Wooldridge announced on Tuesday that she will seek pre-selection for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, which takes in her current lower house electorate of Doncaster.

The next day, Ms Kronberg announced she would quit to spend more time with her family.

If more than three people had nominated for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, it would have sparked a pre-selection process meaning Ms Wooldridge would have had another fight on her hands after losing a Kew pre-selection this month.

Her loss came despite strong backing from the premier.

Rebels desperate for repeat wins over Tahs

Beating the NSW Waratahs is a stand-out moment in the Melbourne Rebels’ short Super Rugby history.


And it’s a feeling they’re desperate to repeat when the teams clash at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Both skipper Scott Higginbotham and winger Lachlan Mitchell, who will become the first player to make 50 appearances for the Rebels, said their first ever win over NSW last season had made an impact.

“It’s a game we’re really proud of and we want that feeling again,” Higginbotham said.

“That was a significant win for the club and we’re going there to keep that Weary Dunlop Shield.”

Mitchell said it was a highlight of his four seasons with Melbourne.

“That’s one of my biggest games, to beat the Waratahs. It’s great to rub it in.”

The 26-year-old isn’t under any illusions that another win will come easily and said the NSW line-up was even stronger than when they got the two-point victory in round 15 last year.

“You have to be prepared because you’re basically just playing the Wallabies,” he said.

“You have to be switched on because they don’t really have any weaknesses.”

Both teams are coming off close losses where they were left ruing missed opportunities.

While the Rebels say they aren’t borrowing the blueprint from the Brumbies on how to beat the Waratahs, their basic game plan is also about line-speed and slowing down the breakdown.

“It’s about shutting it down before they can get on the front foot,” Higginbotham said.

“Defence is going to be very important because when they get front-foot ball they can put guys like Peter Betham and Israel Folau through the holes.”

Higginbotham paid tribute to Mitchell, who plays well beyond his diminutive size.

“He goes head-first into tackles and is one of the toughest blokes I know.”

The Rebels made two forced changes to the run-on side with fullback Jason Woodward (knee) and prop Laurie Weeks (concussion) sidelined.

Angus Roberts and Paul Alo-Emile are their respective replacements while two Japanese internationals, hooker Shota Horie and centre Male Sa’u, have been included in the squad for the first time.

Rebels: Angus Roberts, Lachlan Mitchell, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham (capt), Scott Fuglistaller, Sean McMahon, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Paul Alo-Emile, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith. Res: Shota Horie, Max Lahiff, Cruze Ah-Nau, Cadeyrn Neville, Colby Fainga’a, Ben Meehan, Male Sa’u.

No decision made on Del Piero: Farina

Sydney FC coach Frank Farina has quashed reports star skipper Alessandro Del Piero will leave the A-League club at season’s end.


Reports emerged after the Sky Blues’ 1-1 draw with Brisbane on Friday that the Sydney FC board met last week and decided not to offer the Italian the one-year contract extension he was seeking, according to Fairfax Media.

But Farina said a decision was yet to be made.

“The story that suggested that was the case, it’s not,” he said on Thursday.

“Discussions haven’t been held with Alessandro out of respect for what he wants to do, which is finish as high up the table as we can.

“But no, there’s no decision been made what so ever.”

More than half Farina’s squad, 12 out of 23, are off contract at the end of this season.

The likes of Joel Chianese, Serbian recruits Ranko Despotovic and Milos Dimitrijevic, Richard Garcia, Matt Jurman, Mitchell Mallia, Terry McFlynn, Ivan Necevski, Sasa Ognenovski, Blake Powell and Marc Warren along with Del Piero could all be heading for the exit door come May 30.

With four games remaining, not only will the club be fighting for a top-six spot but all 12 will be fighting for their jobs.

“I think every player is playing, not for their career, but playing to get a contract or justify why we’ve signed them,” Farina said.

“We are in discussions with a number of players, but it’s not the priority at this stage.”

Socceroos centre-back Ognenovski has been a key addition since joining the club in February, helping tighten the side’s leaky defence.

But the veteran hinted at a possible move to Melbourne next season.

“I’m originally from Melbourne so it would be nice to go home,” the 34-year-old said.

“So I’ll have a chat with the club and we might be doing something shortly.”

Del Piero, who is earning about $4 million a season with the Sky Blues and turns 40 in November, sat out last Friday’s clash due to a hamstring complaint.

Similar complaints have restricted his game time this season after a brilliant debut campaign in 2012-13 with the Sky Blues that yielded a club-record 14 goals.

Farina said he was reluctant to risk playing him last week with Sydney, currently in fifth spot, facing a tough run into the finals.

The coach said Del Piero had trained well and would be likely to play in Friday’s crucial encounter away to Adelaide.

It doesn’t get any easier next week with Sydney to face Melbourne Victory away followed by home clashes to Wellington and Perth.

“You role the dice last week and you might miss him for two or three weeks,” Farina said.

“Now with four massive games to go he should be ok.”

Will ‘Jokowi effect’ extend to Australia?

A slender hand breaks through the wall of microphones that circles Jakarta’s governor, Joko Widowdo, and soon the tiny woman it belongs to has squeezed between the reporters.


She says she’s from Solo, the same city as the Indonesian presidential candidate.

And after touching his hand, she looks as if she could float back there.

Everyone wants a piece of the man they call “Jokowi”, who was a political phenomenon well before he entered the presidential contest last week.

A reputable poll has given Jokowi 41.5 per cent of the vote, meaning his nearest rival, former army man Prabowo Subianto on 16.3 per cent, has a hefty mission.

Already tales about Jokowi’s leadership are intoned as if they are legend.

There are stories about how he drops in on state employees unannounced, to see for himself why Jakarta’s notorious bureaucracy is so inefficient.

They say he fired a lazy paper pusher who was busted playing video games on the job.

His trademark “blusukan” (impromptu visits) have won over poor citizens, who are encouraged he’s at home in the villages, even – or especially – when they’re flooded.

Then there’s the story about how the governor, a diehard fan of US heavy metal act Metallica, was given a bass guitar signed by the band’s Robert Trujillo.

A beaming Jokowi was seen on TV playing the maroon bass. But he soon handed the gift of his dreams to the country’s anti-corruption commission, saying it wasn’t right to accept it.

All over Indonesia, these narratives are repeated because they illustrate the qualities many have longed for in a leader.

By not being content to perch in an air-conditioned office, or accept the ineptitude and corruption that halts progress in this flood-prone, traffic-clogged capital, Jokowi has broken the mould.

The next step is for his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to win 20 per cent of seats or 25 per cent of the vote in the April 9 legislative election.

If he then wins the July presidential ballot, little is known about how he would approach foreign policy, and how he would view his neighbour Australia.

Ross Taylor, of the West Australia-based Indonesia Institute, argues it will be good for the region and Australia if Jokowi wins.

After voters invested their hopes in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Democratic Party for two terms, Indonesia’s poor are getting poorer and its rich are getting richer, he says.

A popular leader could restore faith in the democratic process and bring stability to the region.

It could also mean he focuses much of his attention on domestic concerns.

“It would be fair to say his focus in the early years of his presidency would be on things Indonesian,” Mr Taylor says.

“So we would probably see quite a nationalistic approach, which could present some challenges for Indonesia’s neighbours, including Australia.”

University of Melbourne Professor Tim Lindsey says time will tell whether Jokowi can take his Mr Fix-It approach in city hall to the troubled bilateral relationship.

“On the one hand, the election of a cleanskin with a reputation for rational and principled policymaking is a good thing for Australia, and may allow a reset if our government wants this to happen,” he says.

“It will ultimately be up to Australia to make the most of a Jokowi presidency, and given the relationship has been formally downgraded by Indonesia, it will also probably be up to us to take the first step.”

Given so many of Indonesia’s 247 million people are reaching out to Jokowi, it shouldn’t be a hard choice for Australia to do the same.

Samsonite profits rally in 2013

US luggage maker Samsonite says its net profits have leapt 18.


6 per cent, but despite strong worldwide sales its expansion in China has been hit by an official crackdown on corruption.

The firm says its 2013 annual profits reached $US176.1 million ($A195.22 million), up from $148.4 million in 2012, with net sales hitting a record $US2.04 billion, up 15 per cent from the previous year.

However, China sales only grew 5.3 per cent after years of “stellar” growth, in part due to the official crackdown on corruption, group chairman Timothy Charles Parker said.

“Clearly, the slackening in the overall growth rate and official policy on gift-related purchases have had an impact on demand,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Since taking over as head of the Communist Party last year, President Xi Jinping has imposed an austerity drive on party and military officials as a means of reining in graft which has aroused public anger.

The leadership has issued a raft of bans ranging from fancy banquets to expensive gifts, affecting businesses that sell luxury goods from exotic foods to jewellery.

Asia, where sales in most markets grew by double digits for the reported period, is Samsonite’s most important region in terms of revenue.

“There is no sign of any let-up in the global appetite for travel and tourism, especially in developing markets,” Parker said.

Shares in Samsonite, which operates the luggage brands of American Tourister, High Sierra, and Hartmann, ended up 9.42 per cent at $HK22.65 ($A3.24), against a broadly weaker Hong Kong market.

Samsonite raised more than $US225 million in an initial public offering in Hong Kong in June 2011. Last year, it said it may acquire up to $US1 billion worth of Chinese and Asian brands in the next two to three years to diversify its product range.

By listing in Hong Kong, the luggage maker joined a slew of Western brands seeking to use the southern Chinese city to boost their presence in fast-growing Asian markets.

Beyonce beautiful to work on: make-up guru

Beyonce’s make-up artist says the star is a dream to work with.


Make-up guru Francesca Tolot has worked with the singer since meeting her on the set of the promo for Beyonce’s 2003 hit song Crazy in Love. They are now good friends.

The make-up artist says the star is very approachable and she looks forward to working with her.

“She is beautiful, first of all, so even if we have to do a bare look – like for If I Were A Boy – there was really practically no make-up there,” Tolot told intothegloss广西桑拿,.

“There isn’t really a look she doesn’t like.

“She’s very smart – whatever we do is her project. Usually there’s a message in the song, which influences the way it’s going to be filmed, and the wardrobe, and the choreography.

“She trusts me, and we even have the same kind of taste, so that makes it very easy.”

Tolot’s past clients have included Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Cher. She was even personally requested by fashion photographer Helmut Newton to work on projects.

But Beyonce provided Tolot with her favourite-ever assignment.

“I worked with her on [2006 movie] Dreamgirls. That’s what I call the dream job … it’s got to be my favourite,” she said.

“I was actually so scared stepping into it because I’m not good at going into the same place every day and spending so much time with the same person, in a way.

“The freedom of creativity was spectacular. The director gave us the freedom to create each look.

“My favourite was the glitter eye, but they’re all beautiful and I’m very proud of all of them,” Tolot said.

Brandis looks for balance on race laws

George Brandis is a very serious man, befitting his status as the nation’s first law officer.


So it was a surprise when he reduced senators to fits of laughter, derisory as they were from the Labor side, during a sermon on free speech this week.

Brandis, the Commonwealth’s attorney-general, is endeavouring to draft a change to a controversial section of the Racial Discrimination Act that will satisfy proponents of free speech and those, especially minorities, who want legal protection against being offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated because of their race.

The issue came to a head this week when a number of coalition MPs voiced their concerns at a joint meeting of government parties in Canberra.

Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the lower house, warned he might cross the floor of parliament and vote against any change to Section 18C of the act.

The MP used his own experience of racial vilification to make the point that minorities needed the legal protection the section provides them.

It’s a view supported by others in the coalition, including Philip Ruddock – a former attorney-general from the Howard years.

Just as steadfast are the advocates of free speech who, like Brandis, believe it should be legal to offend or insult people – even if they don’t agree with the insults.

A day after Wyatt and others raised their concerns, the attorney-general was telling the Senate that “reasonable people, decent people” can disagree in good faith and still be reasonable people.

“All voices in the coalition parties are voices of reason,” he said, prompting howls of laughter from Labor and Greens senators and wry smiles from his own colleagues.

Fingers were pointed at outspoken Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, well-known for his forthright views on contentious social issues such as gay marriage.

Bernardi lapped it up, baiting his opponents with taunts of “bring it on”.

“Cory is on the way back,” Labor senator Doug Cameron said of Bernardi’s self-inflicted banishment to the backbench after he linked bestiality to homosexuality in an infamous speech to parliament.

After order was restored, Brandis pointedly told opposition senators a view existed that only one point of view or one set of opinions ought to be allowed to be expressed on sensitive social issues such as racism.

“And, if you dissent from that set of opinions, there is something wrong with you – that you are a bad person or a wicked person or a racist.”

Brandis is clearly frustrated by those railing against his plan to change the Racial Discrimination Act and has been censorious, especially, about their argument the law protects minorities against racial vilification.

“One of the problems with this debate is that people make commentary on laws which they have not read,” he said, reminding them that there is no Commonwealth law that proscribes racial vilification.

Outlawing that behaviour has been left to the states.

What Brandis wants from his changes is strong protections for freedom of speech and appropriate laws to protect people and groups from racial vilification.

The two are not inconsistent objectives, he insists.

Which means we’re heading for a compromise that goes some way to appeasing Wyatt, other coalition MPs and indigenous leaders such as Warren Mundine, Tony Abbott’s key adviser.

There are signs Brandis will dilute, rather than repeal, section 18C of the act, making only humiliation an offence.

It won’t be unlawful to offend, insult or even intimidate anyone because of their race.

That’s unlikely to be enough for conservative commentators such as Andrew Bolt who ran foul of section 18C when he suggested it was fashionable for “fair-skinned people” of diverse ancestry to choose Aboriginal racial identity for the purposes of political and career clout.

Nor is it likely to satisfy the Human Rights Commission which sees section 18C as filling an important gap in legal protections for those affected by racial hatred and vilification.

It reported a near 60 per cent increase in complaints under section 18C during 2012-2013.

Fifty-three per cent of racial vilification complaints were resolved at conciliation; four per cent were terminated or declined for being trivial, misconceived or lacking in substance while less than three per cent proceeded to court.

The commission argues the courts have consistently interpreted sections 18C and 18D – which ensures artistic works, scientific debate and fair comment on matters of public interest are exempt from 18C – as maintaining a balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification.

The commission itself is torn over any change to section 18C.

Race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane argues the real harm of racial vilification lies in the damage it causes to a victim’s individual freedom and to our cohesion as a multicultural society.

Tim Wilson, appointed by Brandis to be “freedom” commissioner, believes section 18C should be repealed altogether.

He argues it is in conflict with other human rights and therefore does not meet the threshold for restricting speech.

Brandis has indicated we’ll see his legislation mid-year, just in time for a more compliant Senate to pass judgment.