Australia govt scrapes through by-poll test

Banners and placards are seen displayed outside a polling station in the suburban seat of Bennelong in Sydney on Dec. 16, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2017
0

Australia govt scrapes through by-poll test

SYDNEY: Australia’s government avoided losing its slim majority in Parliament on Saturday, voting showed, as it claimed victory in a bitterly fought by-election that had threatened its hold on power.
The poll in the suburban Sydney seat of Bennelong was triggered by a constitutional crisis that has seen a host of parliamentarians resign over a once-obscure rule barring dual citizens from federal office.
They included Bennelong MP and former tennis star John Alexander, from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition, who stepped down after saying he was most likely a dual British citizen.
It was revealed later that he may not even be entitled to UK nationality. He was recontesting the seat against Labor’s former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally, a popular TV news personality.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s respected election guru Anthony Green said Alexander, who was once the world’s number-eight ranked tennis player, had won.
While results showed a swing to Labor, it was not enough to take the seat.
“There is a five percent swing. There is no sign of a swing larger than that which would endanger the Liberal Party holding the seat and John Alexander will be re-elected,” he said.
Sky News also called the result for Alexander. Kennealy said it was “an extraordinary” swing to Labor, but conceded defeat.
It will be a relief for the government as it battles falling voter support and internal division.
If Keneally had won, Turnbull’s coalition would have lost its one-seat majority, putting the prime minister’s leadership under pressure.
It would have meant Labor could defeat the government in parliamentary votes if it had the backing of all five independents, or crossbenchers.
Turnbull admitted earlier Saturday that “people will be casting a judgment on the government.”
“Australia’s security, prosperity, depends on John Alexander being back as part of our government, delivering more than 1,000 jobs a day,” he said as the polling booths opened.
The contest had been sharpened by recent political debate about increasing foreign interference, centered on China.
Bennelong has a large Chinese community and Labor had accused the government of whipping up hysteria against the country.
The citizenship crisis came to a head on Oct. 27 when Australia’s High Court reaffirmed a provision in the country’s 1901 constitution that forbids dual citizens from serving in federal Parliament.
Of the eight parliamentarians forced to resign, two were from the lower House of Representatives and the rest were upper house senators.
The other lower house member, Deputy Prime Minister
Of the eight parliamentarians forced to resign, two were from the lower House of Representatives and the rest
Barnaby Joyce, easily won his by-election earlier this month.
Voter support for Turnbull has eroded in recent months, with the Liberal leader having to bat away calls for him to step down, even from within the coalition.
Dissatisfaction has stemmed from frustration at dysfunction in Canberra, as borne out by the citizenship chaos, as well a perceived lack of leadership from the prime minister.
Bickering within the coalition has overshadowed some of his government’s achievements and prompted questions over Turnbull’s ability to bring the parties together.


Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

Updated 19 October 2018
0

Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

TOKYO: Officials in Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, on Thursday ordered a company that falsified data on the quality of its quake shock absorbers to replace its products in hundreds of buildings.
KYB Corp, a major producer of the devices used to reduce shaking in a quake, said on Tuesday that data related to their quality and that of products made by a subsidiary, had been falsified since 2003, and possibly even as far back as 2000.
Government officials said there was no risk that buildings would collapse as a result, even in a severe quake, but they were trying to determine how many structures were affected.
The company said at least 900 buildings around Japan had used products that could be involved in the data falsification.
The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634-meter (2,080-ft) -high tower that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions, said it had installed KYB products, while Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said they had been used in at least seven buildings owned by the metropolitan government.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism urged KYB to take full responsibility and determine how the falsification happened, to take steps to replace the shock absorbers and make sure it never occurs again.
“This action, which has brought deep concern to building owners and users as well as weakening public trust about safety, is extremely regrettable,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said it had been told KYB products were used at several venues for the summer Olympics, but did not identify them or give any other details.
“We are aware that the Tokyo metropolitan government has already requested the company to inspect the products, and we will wait for further updates,” said spokesman Masa Takaya.
A Tokyo government official said it was possible KYB products had been used in the aquatics center and an arena to be used for volleyball, which are both under construction, but authorities were awaiting further information.
The most common of several types of shock absorbers used in buildings features a piston that moves inside a cylinder filled with silicone oil.
Shares of KYB ended trade down by 10.92 percent.