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Malcolm Fraser still one of us: Abbott

Malcolm Fraser may have abandoned the political party he once led but Liberals will always claim him as one of their own, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told parliament.

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“He was surely one of us,” Mr Abbott said on Monday as he led tributes to Australia’s 22nd prime minister, who died on Friday aged 84.

Mr Abbott noted the former prime minister’s fractured relationship with the Liberal Party in the latter years of his life.

The “estrangement” grew as the Howard government introduced the GST, expanded mandatory detention of asylum seekers and joined US-led military coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Mr Abbott recalled that when he was working for another Liberal leader – John Hewson – during the early 1990s he was rightly chided for being critical of the Fraser government when drafting the opposition’s Fightback document.

“It was hard to disown your past without diminishing your future,” he observed.

The Liberals owed Malcolm Fraser more than a farewell.

“Our challenge is not to say goodbye; it’s to be more magnanimous in his death than we were in his life.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey said the hardest thing about being in the Liberal Party was that its toughest critics were its own.

“The modern Left is trying to own Malcolm Fraser but no-one owned Malcolm Fraser – he was his own man,” he said, describing him as a genuine Liberal.

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop said it was Mr Fraser’s deeply-held humanity and compassion for refugees that led to his self-imposed estrangement from the party.

But he led with strong ambition for Australia, backed by Liberal principles of opportunity and an abhorrence of prejudice.

Ms Bishop noted Mr Fraser could make life uncomfortable for some politicians, but the nation would be poorer for the loss of his oversight.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said he remained a great admirer of Mr Fraser even after his departure from the party.

He was grateful for advice about the importance of maintaining contact with your electorate, something the Member for Sturt has employed to great effect at close-run elections.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Fraser would be remembered as a either “a hero who turned into a villain or a villain who turned into a hero”.

He achieved much good in supporting Vietnamese refugees, creating SBS, and his anti-apartheid stance on South Africa.

“The good that Malcolm Fraser did will live after him to his great and enduring credit,” Mr Shorten said.

Other Labor MPs, including Tanya Plibersek, Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese, also paid tribute to Mr Fraser.

“In losing Malcolm Fraser we have lost a link to an era not just his own, but the Menzies era before it also,” Mr Bowen said.

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Nigeria votes: Goodluck Jonathan facing strong challenge from former military ruler

A spate of victories against Boko Haram has pushed the militants out of much of the territory they controlled in Nigeria, but that is unlikely to do much to boost President Goodluck Jonathan’s bid for re-election by divided voters this week.

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At the start of this year the Islamist militants had seized an area the size of Belgium in Africa’s biggest economy and were slaughtering civilians at will, a crisis authorities cited as a reason for delaying the poll by six weeks to March 28. Boko Haram is now on the run and squeezed into ever smaller turf. That still won’t help John Dauda get his family back.

       

“The military operations going on now mean nothing to me because I lost my two wives and four children,” the 52-year-old fuel dealer in northeastern Adamawa state said.

 

For that reason, Jonathan will not be getting his vote when he goes into one of the polling booths to be set up in camps for the more than a million people who, like Dauda, have been displaced by fighting.

     

Jonathan, a Christian southerner, has been criticised for failing to tackle the insurgency. His main challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north, has campaigned on his reputation for being tough on security when he was military ruler of Nigeria in the 1980s.

  

Nigeria’s army said on Tuesday it had taken back all but three local government areas, out of around 20 controlled by Boko Haram, a shift owing partly to neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger stepping up offensives against the Islamists. It may have come too late to alter perceptions of Jonathan.

“Why did he have to wait until now that the elections are here? Recapturing those towns is like ‘medicine after death’,” computer science student Joe Garba, 38, said, shaking his head as he turned away from his keyboard in his university classroom.

      

With Nigeria facing its closest election since the end of military rule in 1999, victory on the battlefield won’t automatically mean victory at the ballot box.

 

Morris Adaka, a 50-year-old retired civil servant in Yenagoa, capital of Jonathan’s Niger Delta home state of Bayelsa where the president is expected to do well, wondered why it took the government six years to take action.

 

“If this measure of seriousness had been deployed early enough, the Chibok girls wouldn’t have been kidnapped,” he said, referring to the abduction of around 200 schoolgirls in April last year by Boko Haram to worldwide horror.

 

Thomas Hansen, a senior analyst at Control Risks, said the media narrative around Jonathan had improved, but that “most people in Nigeria seem to have already made up their minds about who they will vote for in the elections”.

 

Not all oppose the president. Edet Edet, a cook in Abuja, made up his mind to vote Jonathan a while ago. “It’s not his fault that Boko Haram killed people. To be winning the battle makes me like him even more,” he said.

 

What this means, says Bismark Rewane, CEO of Lagos-based advisory group Financial Derivatives, is “the military offensive has reduced the haemorrhaging of popularity that Jonathan has been experiencing, but it hasn’t turned into a catalyst for support”.

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Gillespie set as Adelaide Strikers coach

Jason Gillespie is set to be the Adelaide Strikers’ new coach, and South Australian officials will be delighted if he also wants to lead the Redbacks.

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Both coaching jobs have been vacated by Darren Berry, who has departed in what officials describe as an amicable split.

SA are confident Gillespie, currently coaching English county side Yorkshire, will accept the Adelaide Strikers role.

And SA Cricket Association chief executive Keith Bradshaw says he would be overjoyed if Gillespie also wanted the Redbacks’ job.

“At the moment Jason is committed to Yorkshire for their summer,” Bradshaw said on Monday.

“We are in discussions with Jason on the Strikers’ side… should we be able to conclude that negotiation, I would be absolutely thrilled.

“His record since he has been at Yorkshire has been outstanding. He is an absolutely quality guy who has shown that not only as a player, but now as a coach he is one of the world’s great coaches right now.”

Gillespie, a former Test paceman and South Australian stalwart, last year delivered Yorkshire their first county title in 13 years.

But the 39-year-old is also being touted as a potential England coach should they axe incumbent Peter Moores following their failure to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

SA have enlisted Test great Adam Gilchrist, Cricket Australia’s high performance manager Pat Howard and AFL coaching legend David Parkin to a selection panel for a new coach for the Redbacks, who have finished last in the Sheffield Shield in five of the past six summers and not won the four-day competition since 1995-96.

Berry delivered Twenty20 and one-day titles in his first year in charge, 2011, but agreed his tenure was at an end after finishing bottom in this season’s Shield and one-day tournaments.

The ex-Victorian wicketkeeper took five weeks’ personal leave from late January, and SA officials deposed Johan Botha as captain in his absence, plumping for 21-year-old batsman Travis Head.

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Fears British medical students may have joined IS

Nine British medical students have travelled to Syria, apparently to work in hospitals controlled by Islamic State, Britain’s Observer newspaper reported on Saturday.

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The group of four women and five men crossed into Syria from Turkey last week, having travelled from Sudan where they had been studying, said the story, published on the website of the Observer’s sister paper, the Guardian.

It quoted Turkish opposition politician Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, who had met members of the students’ families who were trying to persuade the students to return.

       

Britain’s security services estimate that some 600 Britons have gone to Syria or Iraq to join militant groups, including the man known as “Jihadi John”, who has appeared in several Islamic State beheading videos.

       

Islamic State’s attempt to create a theocratic Sunni Muslim ‘caliphate’ by violent means has attracted thousands of recruits from Europe and elsewhere.

       

Three British schoolgirls are thought to have travelled through Turkey to Syria in February to join the militant group, in one of the most high-profile recent cases. Their families and British authorities have made repeated appeals for them to return home. Britain’s Foreign Office was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

 

The group of medical students are in their late teens and early 20s and all have Sudanese roots but were born and brought up in Britain, the story said.  

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Toxic boss at work? Here are some tips for coping

Vicki Webster, Griffith University and Paula Brough, Griffith University

In Australia, workplace health and safety legislation effectively holds employers responsible for ensuring the emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing of employees.

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Mental stress claims lodged by affected employees against their employer increased by 25% from 2001 to 2011. Although the proportion of stress claims specifically relating to “poor relationships with superiors” was not reported, a Medibank Private commissioned study reported that in 2007 the total cost of work related stress to the Australian economy was A$14.8 billion; the direct cost to employers alone in stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism was A$10.11 billion.

A recent study into the impact of systemic toxic behaviours exhibited by managers found that even one or two toxic behaviours, such as manipulating and intimidating, was enough to cause significant harm to employees’ mental and physical health.

The most common toxic behaviours exhibited by managers include:

Constantly seeks and needs praiseHas to win at all costsLapses into time consuming, self-praising anecdotesCharms, cultivates and manipulatesPlays favouritesTakes credit for others’ workLiesBullies and abuses othersIncessantly criticises others publiclyHas mood swings and temper tantrumsTreats all workplace interactions as a fault-finding exerciseTakes all decision making authority awayMicro manages everything you doPromises to take action but later renegesIgnores requestsImpact on wellbeing

Negative consequences for wellbeing reported by participants in the study included:

Psychological

Anxiety, depression, burnout, cynicism, helplessness, social isolation, loss of confidence, feeling undervalued.

Emotional

Anger, disappointment, distress, fear, frustration, mistrust, resentment, humiliation.

Physical

Insomnia, hair loss, weight loss/gain, headaches, stomach upsets, viruses and colds.

 

Image sourced from shutterstock广西桑拿,

 

One way to deal with toxic managers is to escalate the risk and report it to senior management. However, a common theme in the study was frustration felt by participants when no action was taken after reporting the leaders’ toxic behaviours. Sometimes organisations are reluctant to take action against the offender, perhaps because they hold important relationships, bring in significant revenue, or for fear they will become litigious if challenged. Organisations that choose to ignore toxic leadership behaviours are likely to incur increased stress claims and litigation costs.

How can employee wellbeing be preserved? First, it is necessary to understand whether the offending leader is well intentioned, but unaware of their dysfunctional behaviours. If so, one strategy is to outline the specific behaviours that are causing distress to the leader in question, to let them know the impact of their behaviour through performance management processes. However, if it is felt there is deliberate intent on their part to get their own way at the expense of those around them, other options should be considered, such as commencing disciplinary action.

Individual coping strategies

If you are experiencing toxic leadership, and feel you are not in a position to report it, or leave the organisation, coping strategies reported in the study as helpful were:

Seeking social support from colleagues, mentor, friends and familySeeking professional support, i.e. Employee Assistance Program, counsellor, psychologist, general practitionerSeeking advice from Human ResourcesUndertaking health and well-being activities, i.e. diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, breathing exercisesRestructuring your thoughts about the incidents in question to maintain a sense of calm and manage your state of mind.What not to do

Coping strategies that were reported as having negative consequences or prolonging stress and fear of their leader were:

Confronting the leaderAvoiding, ignoring or bypassing the leaderWhistle blowingRuminating on the wrongs done and reliving the feelings of anger and frustrationFocusing on workTaking sick leave (short-term relief only).

Individuals regularly on the receiving end of toxic behaviours commonly start questioning themselves, doubting their capabilities and feeling locked into their current situation/role/organisation.

To protect against such frustration, ensure you have an up-to-date career plan, clearly outlining your strengths, achievements, personal values, work preferences, development opportunities, and employability. Keep your resume and online profile up to date and ensure you are well networked in your occupation and industry – all part of a contingency plan to exit the toxic workplace situation should it become untenable.

Paula Brough receives funding from the ARC.

Vicki Webster does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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