Ideas hub to shake up aid program

A fake brick wall, beanbags and a no-tie policy will help public servants and business minds solve global poverty.


The federal government has allocated $140 million over four years to the Google-like ideas hub – dubbed the InnovationXchange – aimed at improving the results of Australian aid programs.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop acknowledges the hub will challenge the deeply traditional hierarchy of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as being a novelty for the government.

It would also send shivers down the spine of bureaucrats who front Senate estimates hearings.

But it would be worth the risks, Ms Bishop said.

“We cannot waste time and cannot keep throwing money at a problem in the same way we’ve always done and expect there to be a different outcome.”

One of the first projects is a partnership with the philanthropy foundation of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to help developing countries gather health data for better allocation of resources.

Australia will toss in $20 million.

Mr Bloomberg was unable to attend Monday’s launch but in a video message said the investment showed the government was challenging the status quo to solve tough problems.

“I often say if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it,” he said.

Danish climate change sceptic Bjorn Lomborg is on the hub’s international reference group along with the Seven Network’s chief operating officer Ryan Stokes.

Aid group Oxfam said the hub’s launch was undermined by talk of further budget cuts.

“The government has already cut Australian aid to the bone,” spokeswoman Pam Anders said, adding more cuts would mean less innovation.

Read More

Lock Mumm to return to NSW

Former Wallabies lock Dean Mumm could be in World Cup contention after signing a one-year deal to return to the Waratahs in 2016.


Currently captain of English side Exeter, Mumm will return to the NSW fold next Super Rugby season however it’s believed that the ARU has provisionally approved his eligibility for the World Cup should he play club rugby in Sydney this year.

Another former Waratahs lock Kane Douglas, who is currently with Irish club Leinster, is reportedly considering asking for an early release to return to Australia to also play in the World Cup.

The news is a boost for the Waratahs, who have had to convert captain Dave Dennis into a second-rower this season.

It’s also a coup for the Wallabies, with Sitaleki Timani and Ben Mowen also now playing overseas while James Horwill is leaving at the end of the season.

Mumm, a former NSW captain, left for England at the end of 2012 after playing 33 Tests and 83 Super Rugby games.

The 31-year-old led Exeter to the LV Cup final overnight, with the team falling 23-20 to Saracens after winning the title in 2014.

Waratahs Rugby chief executive Greg Harris said he was extremely pleased to secure the signature of Mumm.

“We’re absolutely delighted that Dean will be coming back to the Waratahs, to have a player of his experience and reputation will be a great asset for the team,” Harris said.

“Dean has had a very successful career, both previously at the Waratahs and during his stint with the Exeter Chiefs, and were very fortunate to be able to have someone with his playing experience and leadership skills back at the club.”

Read More

Boomers ripe for Olympic medal: ex-coach

The Australian men’s basketball team is “ripe” to an historic Olympic medal as long as centre Andrew Bogut stays healthy, says former head coach Brett Brown.


US-born Brown, the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, went three Olympics with the Boomers, with a best result of fourth in 1996 and 2000.

But with Bogut, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Cameron Bairstow all now playing in the NBA, Brown likes the chances of the Boomers claiming their long-awaited first Olympic medal in Rio next year.

“They have a great shot,” Brown told AAP on Sunday.

“They’re ripe.

“We always used to get excited when we had one NBA guy and most times that NBA guy wasn’t really playing and now you look at Dellavedova, Bogut, Ingles, Dante, Patty Mills and Baynes.

“They’re contributing and playing significant roles in the NBA.”

Brown, a former coach of the year in the NBL, had stints with the Melbourne Tigers, North Melbourne Giants and Sydney Kings.

He was also an assistant for the Boomers at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and head coach in 2012 where the team, without an injured Bogut, was knocked out in the quarter-finals.

“As we all know Andrew Bogut is the difference maker, so I’m thrilled to hear Andrew has committed and I’m told is excited to be a part of it,” Brown said.

“In the past his body wouldn’t let him.

“He was one of the main reasons why I sought the job and I missed him and to see him play with that group, it’ll be great for Australia.”

Brown was in Los Angeles where the 76ers are playing the LA Lakers.

Read More

Afghans bury woman beaten to death by mob

Hundreds of people have attended the burial of an Afghan woman who was beaten to death and set on fire by a mob for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran.


The body of Farkhunda, 27, who was lynched on Thursday by an angry crowd in central Kabul, was carried to the graveyard by women amid crowds of men, a rare act of protest in a male-dominated society.

The crowd, shouting “Allah o Akbar” (God is greatest), demanded the government bring the killers to justice.

“This is a crime against this family, a crime against a sister and a crime against humanity,” said Bari Salam, a human rights activist.

“All those involved and all those who supported her killing should be brought to justice,” he said.

The lynching – in full view of several police officers – sparked widespread condemnation at home and worldwide.

The United Nations said Farkhunda had “suffered mental illness for many years”.

But Farkhunda’s father told the media his daughter had a diploma in Islamic studies and could recite the Koran by heart.

He insisted she was not involved in burning the Muslim holy book.

Footage of the attack on social media shows a number of uniformed police watching the crowd as they beat her to death, burn her body and then dump it into a river.

“This brutal act once again shows the incompetence of the police force,” said Mariam Mustafawi, one of those at the burial.

“Today our police force is unable to enforce the rule of law. How can they protect us against the enemy?” she said.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the killing as “heinous” and ordered a commission to investigate the incident.

He said police, who play a crucial part in the war against Taliban insurgents, were not well-trained to contain such incidents.

Allegations of Koran burnings have sparked incidents before in the deeply conservative religious nation.

In 2012 the revelation that copies of the Koran had been burnt at the US-run Bagram prison sparked five days of violent anti-US riots and attacks across the country, in which 30 people died.

Read More

Hyo Joo Kim wins LPGA’s Founders Cup

South Korean teenager Hyo Joo Kim has birdied five of the last eight holes to outlast American Stacy Lewis and win the LPGA Tour’s Founders Cup.


The 19-year-old Kim closed with a five-under 67, holing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix to beat Lewis by three strokes for her second LPGA Tour title.

World No.3 Lewis (68) pulled within a stroke with a birdie on the par-4 16th, but three-putted for bogey on 18.

Projected to jump from eighth to fourth in the world, Kim finished at 21-under 267.

She won the Evian Championship last year in France for her first major title and has eight victories on the South Korean tour.

Kim is the fifth South Korean winner in the first six events this year – and the other winner, top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand, was born in South Korea.

South Korea’s Ilhee Lee (66) and Mi Hyang Lee (68) and Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum (67) tied for third at 16 under.

Ko had her third straight 69 to tie for sixth at 15-under.

The 17-year-old New Zealander has broken par in her last 24 LPGA Tour rounds and 27 worldwide, a streak that started in the first round of her victory last year in the season-ending event.

Ko won the Women’s Australian Open and the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open in consecutive weeks this year. In her other three LPGA Tour starts, she tied for second in Florida in the opener, tied for seventh in the Bahamas and was second in Singapore.

Australian veteran Karrie Webb, the 2011 and 2014 winner, finished with a 69 to tie for 34th at 9 under.

Read More