Breastfeeding ‘reduces heart disease risk’

Breastfeeding significantly reduces a woman’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, Australia’s largest cohort study has found.

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Research from the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study, which was presented at a forum in Sydney on Tuesday, found breastfeeding reduced a woman’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 14 per cent.

“The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was about 34 per cent lower,” lead researcher Ms Binh Nguyen told AAP.

“This is very meaningful because cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer of women worldwide and in Australia.”

Researchers, led by the PhD student at Sydney University’s school of public health, followed a sample of 1000 mothers for six years to investigate the association between breastfeeding and the risk of developing CVD.

Not only did they find an association between breastfeeding and a lower risk of CVD but the longer a woman breastfed the lower their risk, Ms Nguyen said.

According to the data, a woman who breastfed for between 12 to 24 months had a 16 per cent lower risk of developing CVD.

Ms Nguyen said the findings were consistent with previous studies that suggested breastfeeding was not only good for the baby but for the mother’s heart too.

“We usually look at lifestyle risk factors like physical activity or diet but other behaviours that can be modified like breastfeeding … are worthwhile to consider as well,” she said.

The 45 and Up study follows the health of more than a quarter of a million NSW men and women, who have filled in a comprehensive questionnaire about their health.

So far it has led to more than 240 research findings on a wide range of issues from cancer to the use of prescription medicine.

This knowledge has been used by more than 25 public health policies agencies across the country, study scientific director Professor Emily Banks says.

The next phase of the study will involve the collection of up to 50,000 blood samples to provide a “complete picture” of people’s health risk and how to stay healthy in the long term.

Samples will be stored in the soon-to-be opened NSW State Biobank.

A pilot study is currently underway to collect the first blood sample from a small number of participants to explore the most convenient approach to larger-scale collection.

Law Council backs indigenous voice vote

The Law Council of Australia has officially thrown its support behind a national vote on an Aboriginal voice to parliament.

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Five months ago the Referendum Council backed a referendum for a constitutionally-enshrined indigenous advisory body at a historic convention in Central Australia.

It’s recommendations, delivered to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in June, also called for a treaty-making mechanism and a reconciliation commission.

But the commonwealth has yet to formally respond.

On Tuesday the Law Council of Australia urged genuine commitment from all federal parliamentarians to implement the recommendations swiftly.

“The package of reforms proposed by the Referendum Council is an important step forward in the process toward reconciliation,” president Fiona McLeod SC said.

She also noted that the proposals would pave the way for indigenous self-determination, a fundamental principle of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Australia has committed to this principle under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Law Council has long held that the country’s founding document should formally recognise the distinct identities of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their unique status as Australia’s first peoples.

“The Referendum Council’s work in pursuing change has been essential and, on behalf of the Australian legal profession, I thank its members,” Ms McLeod said.

Cape York leader Noel Pearson is hopeful once the same sex marriage issue is resolved, political attention can return to Aboriginal constitutional reform.

He challenged parliamentarians and the broader community to take responsibility for change, stressing the debate had dragged on for the past decade and time was running out.

“At some point white Australia’s got to step up,” Mr Pearson told the Sydney Institute on Monday night.

“We really need leadership from the government… so that this agenda is not forever sidelined.”

‘He would try to pull me into bed’: Weinstein assistant breaks NDA to speak of alleged abuse

A British former assistant to Harvey Weinstein has broken a confidential agreement to speak out about alleged sexual harassment by the disgraced movie mogul.

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Zelda Perkins said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Monday that she wished to break the non-disclosure agreement made in October 1998.

Perkins, who worked for Miramax in London, shared a APS250,000 ($422,700) payment with another woman who said she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein, according to the report.

Perkins, who waived her right to anonymity, said Weinstein had repeatedly sexually harassed her, starting when he asked her to massage him while he was in his underwear.

“I want to publicly break my non-disclosure agreement,” she told the newspaper, running the risk of legal action against her.

“Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under.”

She said her first experience of harassment was when he asked her to massage him while he was wearing just his underwear, which she declined to do but his behaviour continued.

“But this was his behaviour on every occasion I was alone with him,” she said.

“I often had to wake him up in the hotel in the mornings and he would try to pull me into bed.”

Weinstein, who denies allegations of non-consensual sex, has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by dozens of women since a bombshell investigation published by The New York Times.

The 65-year-old is the subject of criminal investigations in the UK, Los Angeles and New York as well as a civil rights investigation in the US state.

Officials queried over ABCC resignations

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash says she was unaware the deputy commissioner of the building watchdog had quit over concerns with the former head Nigel Hadgkiss.

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Australian Building and Construction Commissioner deputy commissioner Anthony Southall QC tendered his resignation on October 15, but it was not publicly known until Monday when it broke in the media.

Mr Hadgkiss resigned from his role as ABCC boss last month, having admitted to recklessly misrepresenting union rights on ABCC posters and in handbooks.

Media reports on Monday quoted Mr Southall as saying he had no knowledge of the gravity of Mr Hadgkiss’ conduct until reading a court judgment, as the pair had not discussed it.

He found it “untenable to continue in the role” and wanted to “totally dissociate himself from the conduct of Mr Hadgkiss”.

Senator Cash told a Senate hearing on Monday she had been aware of Mr Southall’s resignation since October 15 but did not see a requirement to publicly disclose it.

Asked about the media reports on the reasons for the resignation, she said: “They were not the reasons given in the resignation provided to myself.”

The same committee also heard Mr Hadgkiss had decided to resign after receiving a phone call from Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd.

Mr Lloyd said he had made the call after meeting with Senator Cash on September 12.

He said Senator Cash had told him the government was of the view Mr Hadgkiss’ position was no longer tenable.

“I later conveyed to Mr Hadgkiss the government’s position that he consider tendering his resignation,” Mr Lloyd said.

Mr Lloyd said Mr Hadgkiss’ initial response was one of “surprise”, but after several more phone calls the decision was made to quit.

Prisoner who tortured Daniel Morcombe’s killer said ‘he had it coming’

A Queensland prisoner who scalded schoolboy Daniel Morcombe’s killer with a bucket of boiling water has been sentenced to three years’ jail.

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Adam Paul Davidson, 31, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Monday to torturing Brett Peter Cowan at the Wolston Correctional Centre on August 5, 2016.

Judge Ian Dearden sentenced Davidson to three years’ jail but with time already served he will be released on parole in late November.

The court heard Davidson plotted and watched Cowan’s movements for a month to find the best way to harm the high-profile sex offender.

Prosecutor Mark Whitbread said Davidson got the idea to use boiling water after he saw another inmate with horrific scars and wearing a burn suit after a similar attack.

“He would love that scarring to be on Cowan,” Mr Whitbread said.

The court heard Davidson poured a mop bucket over Cowan’s head while the then 46-year-old was playing cards with other inmates.

Daniel Morcombe disappeared in December 2003, aged 13, while going Christmas shopping. AAP

He then struck Cowan in the head with the bucket three to four times.

Cowan received superficial burns to 15 per cent of his body and was treated in hospital to prevent infection.

Davidson told investigators he attacked Cowan “for a little bit of retribution” and he wanted him “to feel the pain like someone like Daniel Morcombe has felt”.

“I did it. Only me no one else was involved. He had it coming, he’s a f***king grub,” Davidson said.

Judge Dearden said every person was entitled to be treated respectfully, no matter how appalling the crimes they had committed.

“We are all precious human beings, it doesn’t matter who we are,” Judge Dearden said.

“You have no entitlement to act as a vigilante.”

Cowan, 48, is serving a life sentence for abducting and murdering Daniel on the Sunshine Coast in December 2003.

The 13-year-old’s remains were found in August 2011 after an elaborate police operation prompted Cowan to confess and lead undercover officers to where he dumped Daniel’s body.

Refugees refuse to leave Manus centre

More than 600 asylum seekers and refugees are refusing to leave the Manus Island immigration detention centre ahead of its closure next week.

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Authorities are planning to axe food services, access to drinking water, medical treatment, education programs, electricity and sewerage from Tuesday week.

Alternative accommodation and services will be provided to refugees while they wait for resettlement in a third country.

There are also 156 people whose bid for asylum has been rejected.

A Senate committee on Monday heard that 606 people still at the centre, and required to leave by the closure deadline, were refusing to move out.

It’s unclear what the status of these asylum seekers and refugees are in the detention process.

Asked if they would be removed by force, Immigration Department secretary Michael Pezzullo said that was a matter for the Papua New Guinean government.

Mr Pezzullo suggested the ordinary laws of trespass may apply because PNG was planning to reoccupy the former military facility.

“They don’t have a human right to trespass on a naval base,” he told senators.

Greens senator Nick McKim said the Australian government was risking a human rights disaster and loss of life by not making any security arrangements for people who chose to stay at the centre.

Senator McKim pointed out PNG navy personnel had previously fired shots at the centre and some refugees had been attacked with machetes in nearby Lorengau.

Mr Pezzullo rejected claims people were too scared to leave the centre, saying refugees now come and go as they please.

Counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists will continue to be available to refugees at the East Lorengau transit centre.

All service providers and Australian personnel will leave by the closure date.

The cost of transition arrangements for Australia has been estimated at between $150 million and $250 million for the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, the department has revealed two refugees and an ineligible asylum seeker on Manus Island have taken up the offer to transfer to Nauru.

The hearing was told the Nauru government had shown interest for a long time in taking more refugees from Manus.

Labor senator Kim Carr pointed out Nauru charges about $10,000 for a refugee visa.

The department officials admitted refugees in Australia for medical treatment were precluded from applying for resettlement in the US.

The hearing was told 40 people in that situation had expressed an interest in going to the US.

The US has agreed to resettle up to 1250 people and so far about 50 have travelled to America.

Julie Bishop hammered over expenses claim to Thor: Ragnarok movie premiere

Labor has queried $1.

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2 million in expenses claimed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop including a trip to the Sydney premiere of the new Disney-Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok.

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching told a Senate committee on Monday the minister had spent the $1.2 million in a “variety of ways”, including attending a polo match and the movie premiere.

She asked Attorney-General George Brandis whether the spending met the ministerial standards code, which called for frontbenchers to “refrain from wasteful and extravagant spend of public money”.

Senator Brandis said Ms Bishop was “one of the most experienced and most respected ministers in the Australian government”.

“(She) is well aware of the standards and is always observant of them,” Senator Brandis said.

Thor: Ragnarok was primarily filmed in Queensland, featuring Melbourne-born actor Chris Hemsworth.

At the movie premiere on October 15, Ms Bishop was quoted as saying: “It does add a great deal to the Australian economy and it will raise our profile overseas as a sophisticated, creative nation.”

Senator Brandis told the committee, after seeking advice, the minister had attended not only in her official capacity but launched the premiere and gave a speech.

In any case, the minister was already in Sydney having returned from an official trip to South Korea and was due to travel to Canberra the following day for a parliament session.

The government provided $47.25 million to attract Thor: Ragnarok and another film produced by Sir Ridley Scott.

It was estimated the films would bring more than $300 million in investment and provide over 3000 jobs.

Senator Kitching said it appeared ministerial standards were applied in different ways to different ministers, citing the case of former minister Sussan Ley quitting over an “error of judgment” about a trip to the Gold Coast.

Senator Brandis rejected the suggestion.

Vic MP to poll public on euthanasia bill

A Victorian upper house MP might listen to his constituents more than his heart when it comes time to vote on the state’s controversial assisted dying laws.

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The Labor government’s bill is bound for the further scrutiny in the Legislative Council after passing the lower house 47-37 on Friday, following more than 24 hours of debate over 141 unsuccessful amendments.

Western District MP James Purcell said it’s important for him to represent community views even though he supports the legislation.

“I have started consulting with local constituents and medical professionals regarding this legislation and am now asking the broader community if they believe people who are terminally ill should have the right to die,” he said in statement on Monday.

“It is important that I take into consideration both sides of this incredibly sensitive issue before casting my vote.”

Mr Purcell’s statement comes as two other upper house MPs reportedly decided against supporting the bill.

The Australian says Liberal Georgie Crozier and Nationals Luke O’Sullivan shifted their support for the bill after interventions from former prime ministers Paul Keating and Tony Abbott.

“I’ve got huge concerns with the bill and won’t be supporting it,” Ms Crozier told the newspaper.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he has “reservations” about the bill.

Mr Keating, a Labor heavyweight, said its passage through the lower house was “truly a sad moment for the whole country”.

He also labelled it “deeply regressive legislation”.

If the bill passes by the end of 2017, an 18-month implementation period means the scheme could be in place by mid-2019.

It would not be the first time euthanasia legislation has been enacted in Australia, with the Northern Territory approving laws in the mid-1990s which were later repealed.

Victoria’s parliament sits again on October 31.

‘Huge loss for music’: Easybeats icon George Young dead at 70

The 70-year-old’s death was confirmed by his Australian music publishing and recording house Alberts in an online statement from CEO David Albert on Monday.

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“It is with great sadness that Alberts acknowledge the passing of George Young,” the statement read.

“A consummate songwriter, trailblazing producer, artist, mentor and extraordinary musician, George was above all else a gentleman who was unfailingly modest, charming, intelligent and loyal, a man with a wonderful sense of humour.

“George was a pioneer who, with close friends Harry Vanda and Ted Albert, created a new sound for the Australian music industry. He will be missed.”

ARIA would like to send its deepest sympathies to the family, friends and fans of Easybeats guitarist/songwriter and record producer George Young, who has passed away, aged 70. pic南京夜生活,/KmM617VbLp

— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) October 23, 2017

Young rose to fame as a member of The Easybeats, playing rhythm guitar and writing hit singles including Friday On My Mind and Love Is In Air, the latter also made famous by John Paul Young. 

His younger brothers Malcolm and Angus achieved fame in rock band AC/DC, with Young and The Easybeats’ lead guitarist Harry Vanda co-producing the band’s early albums including Let There Be Rock, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, T.N.T, Powerage and High Voltage.

In a statement on its website, AC/DC said the band would not have existed without Young’s help and guidance.

“As a musician, songwriter, producer, advisor and much, much more, you could not ask for a more dedicated and professional man,” the statement read.

“As a brother, you could not ask for a finer brother. For all he did and gave to us throughout his life, we will always remember him with gratitude and hold him close to our hearts.”

Young and Vanda embraced The Easybeats’ 1969 split to produce many more bands under the ‘Vanda and Young’ title. 

Over the years they produced albums by notable Australian acts The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Ted Mulry Band and Meatloaf. 

Australian rock’s stars took to social media to post their condolences, including Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes who described Young’s passing as a “huge loss”.

George Young RIP What a huge loss for music. A great songwriter, producer and a great human being

— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) October 23, 2017

The Hoodoo Gurus’ Dave Faulkner tweeted praise for Young’s songwriting, posting a link to footage of The Easybeats live in Germany in 1967.

GEORGE YOUNG, 1946 – 2017.

The Easybeats were one of our greatest bands and George’s songwriting, first with… 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/qwxeIgnYaX

— David Faulkner (@Faulkner69) October 23, 2017

Vanda and Young were one of the first groups to be inducted the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) hall of fame in 1988, with Australian Musician magazine declaring in 1997 that the meeting of the duo at a Sydney migrant hostel in 1964 as the most significant event in Australian pop and rock music history. 

They achieved success as a duo in front of the microphones, most notably as Flash and the Pan from 1977 to 1992.

They achieved success in Australia, while in European they notched four hit singles from 1983 to 1987 including Midnight Man and Ayla. 

Young was again inducted into the ARIA hall of fame in 2005 as part of The Easybeats.

Following his friend’s death, Harry Vanda issued a heartbreaking six word statement:

“Dear George, Rest in Peace my dear friend. Harry Vanda”. 

 

Australia will spend up to $250 million housing Manus refugees

Australia will spend between $150 and $250 million housing the remaining refugees and asylum seekers elsewhere on Manus Island for 12 months after the detention centre closes, immigration officials estimate.

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The government’s detention centre on Manus will close at the end of October,  but hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers will still need to stay in government housing and hotels because they are yet to be settled under a deal with the United States or within Papua New Guinea.

Electricity, water and food supplies at the main Manus detention centre will be cut off at the end of October, and anyone remaining at the camp may be “trespassing”, the head of the Immigration Department told a Senate Estimates hearing.  

Those remaining will be settled in government-run accommodation around the Manus Island area capable of housing up to 700 refugees, between two sites at East Lorengau and West Lorengau. A third site called Hillside House can hold up to 198 certified non-refugees.

The department has also booked 48 beds in PNG hotels to help fill the gap until construction of the housing is complete.

Immigration officials said the total cost of housing the remaining population – including security, food, employment services and healthcare – will cost between $150 and $250 million for 12 months, depending on the final contracts and how many refugees are taken by the US.

“It’s actually quite a tight estimate given the variables that we deal with,” Michael Pezzullo, the head of the department, told the Senate on Monday.

“We are very mindful of costs and value for money,” he said, stressing the ongoing costs were still less than the cost of operating the detention centre.

Greens senator Nick McKim said the government was trying to “starve out” the refugees remaining in the detention centre by cutting off food, water and power after October 31. 

“Don’t you think you’re risking a human rights disaster here and potentially a mass loss of life?” he asked. 

Immigration officials responded that the services would be offered at the new facilities elsewhere on the island. 

“I reject any assertion that this department has been torturing anyone,” Mr Pezzullo said. 

Liberal senator Jane Hume accused Senator McKim of “politically motivated melodrama”.

Mr Pezzullo said the contracts with private service providers were “designed” so they could be taken over by the PNG Government later on, but said there was currently no deal in place.

There are around 606 people remaining on Manus Island.

So far, 54 people have moved to the US under a settlement deal that could see up to 1,250 people settled there. A further 52 people have accepted a $25,000 payment to return to their countries-of-origin, and are expected to be home by the end of the year. 

Abe pushes reform after election win

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, buoyed by a huge election win for lawmakers who favour revising Japan’s post-war, pacifist constitution, has signalled a push towards his long-held goal, but will need to convince a divided public.

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Japan’s ruling coalition is on track for an impressive win in national elections in what will represent a ringing endorsement for Abe’s near five-year leadership.

Parties in favour of amending the US-drafted charter won nearly 80 per cent of the seats in Sunday’s lower house election, media counts showed. Four seats remain to be called and final figures are expected later on Monday.

That leaves the small, new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) as the biggest group opposed to Abe’s proposed changes.

Formed by liberal members of the Democratic Party, which imploded before the election and no longer exists in the lower house, the CDPJ won 54 seats, a fraction of the ruling bloc’s two-thirds majority in the 465-member chamber.

Abe said he wanted to get other parties on board, including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s new conservative Party of Hope, and was not insisting on a target of changing the constitution by 2020 that he floated earlier this year.

“We won a two-thirds majority as the ruling bloc, but it is necessary to strive to form a wide-ranging agreement among the ruling bloc and opposition (to revise the constitution),” Abe told a news conference.

“And then we aim to win the understanding of the people, so that we can gain a majority in a referendum,” Abe said. He stopped short of claiming to have won a mandate for amending the constitution in Sunday’s election.

Amending the charter’s pacifist Article 9 would be hugely symbolic for Japan. Supporters see it as the foundation of post-war democracy but many conservatives view it as a humiliating imposition after Japan’s defeat in 1945.

It would also be a victory for Abe, whose conservative agenda of restoring traditional values, stressing obligations to the state over individual rights and loosening constraints on the military, centres on revising the constitution.

Calls for Aust to step up ocean protection

Australia has won praise for its recent commitments to protecting oceans in the region but European leaders would like to see the government step up further.

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At the Our Ocean conference held in Malta earlier in October, Australia pledged $37 million to help Pacific countries adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change and almost another $27 million in other commitments, including measures to stop illegal fishing.

EU Commissioner for Environment and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella says Australia played its part well.

But with the conference being hosted in Indonesia next year and Micronesian island nation Palau in 2020, he believes the focus will fall more heavily on impacts in the Pacific and Australia’s role.

“I think that from such a huge continent as Australia, one would feel that Australia’s participation is more visible, it’s more active, it’s taken up with the higher political presence and so on,” he told AAP in Brussels.

“I think that in the coming Our Oceans conferences in the Pacific we will see Australia playing an even bigger and and even higher, important role.”

The EU made commitments at this year’s conference totalling $826 million.

The vital thing now was for all countries invited to attend to follow through on commitments made over the past four years.

Mr Vella said Our Oceans was not a “discussion” conference but a “commitment” conference and as the 2017 host, the EU would be closely monitoring those pledges to make sure they happened.

Australia’s role as a leader in the Pacific on climate action is also expected to come under scrutiny at the United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany in November, with Fiji indicating it wants to use its presidency of the conference to speak up for island nations in the region.

* The writer is taking part in an EU-sponsored study tour.

Vic spinner Holland to miss Shield opener

Test hopeful Jon Holland remains unavailable for Victoria’s opening Sheffield Shield match as the left-arm spinner recovers from knee surgery.

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Holland was forced out of last month’s one-day cup after undergoing a procedure to relieve swelling in his right knee.

He has been left out of a 12-man Bushrangers squad featuring Test batsmen Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell that will take on Queensland with a pink ball at the Gabba starting on Thursday.

Wicketkeeper Sam Harper is set to play his first four-day game since spending a fortnight in hospital after being inadvertently hit in the head with the bat of South Australia’s Jake Lehmann in February.

Young gun Will Sutherland, who impressed with 4-11 against NSW in the one-day tournament earlier this month, is unlikely to be considered for Shield selection until the third round as he completes his year 12 VCE exams.

Peter Siddle and Aaron Finch are among the experienced hands set to return as Victoria look to claim their fourth consecutive Shield title.

“We know how much hard work goes into winning the Sheffield Shield and how long the journey is, and the players and coaches are all well prepared and ready for what is ahead,” chairman of selectors Andrew Lynch said on Monday.

“Starting on the road is never easy, so it’s crucial for us to get off to a winning start this week against Queensland.”

Test batsmen Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw headline the 12-man Bulls squad, with 23-year-old paceman Brendan Doggett in line to become Queensland’s first indigenous player in more than 30 years.

Victoria 12-man squad: Peter Handscomb (capt), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Dan Christian, Travis Dean, Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Sam Harper, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Cameron White.

Queensland: Usman Khawaja (capt), Joe Burns, Brendan Doggett, Luke Feldman, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, James Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Sam Truloff, Jack Wildermuth.