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Spanish voters go to the polls for the fourth general election in as many years

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Spanish voters have headed to the polls for the fourth time in as many years today amid heightened tensions over the Catalonian separatist movement and a spike in support for the far-right party Vox.

The repeat voting was called by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez after he failed to secure sufficient support from other parties to form a government, following an inconclusive general election in April which saw his socialist party, PSOE, win the most votes but fail to obtain a crucial working majority. 

Opinion polls suggest that this new election will fail to break the deadlock, with neither the left or the right able to gain enough votes to gain a majority in Madrid’s 350-seat parliament.

The Socialists are on track to finish top again but with slightly fewer seats than the 123 they picked up in April, and far short of the 176 seats needed for a majority, while the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) may strengthen its parliamentary presence.

Spain's socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez casts his vote in Madrid this morning. He called the fourth general election in as many years after his party failed to get enough seats in parliament to gain a working majority

Spain's socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez casts his vote in Madrid this morning. He called the fourth general election in as many years after his party failed to get enough seats in parliament to gain a working majority

Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez casts his vote in Madrid this morning. He called the fourth general election in as many years after his party failed to get enough seats in parliament to gain a working majority

Spain's socialist Prime Minister's conservative rival Pablo Casado, of the People's Party, casts his vote in the capital. Polls suggest his party may gain several additional seats

Spain's socialist Prime Minister's conservative rival Pablo Casado, of the People's Party, casts his vote in the capital. Polls suggest his party may gain several additional seats

Spain’s socialist Prime Minister’s conservative rival Pablo Casado, of the People’s Party, casts his vote in the capital. Polls suggest his party may gain several additional seats

And far-right leader of Vox Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in the country's capital. The party, which favours 'drastic solutions' to the Catalonian independence question has seen a surge in the polls

And far-right leader of Vox Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in the country's capital. The party, which favours 'drastic solutions' to the Catalonian independence question has seen a surge in the polls

And far-right leader of Vox Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in the country’s capital. The party, which favours ‘drastic solutions’ to the Catalonian independence question has seen a surge in the polls

In Barcelona, Spain's Catalan leader Quim Torra casts his vote as daughter Helena Torra, wearing yellow, works at the polling station. This election has been marred by heightened tensions over Catalonian independence and a surge in support for Vox

In Barcelona, Spain's Catalan leader Quim Torra casts his vote as daughter Helena Torra, wearing yellow, works at the polling station. This election has been marred by heightened tensions over Catalonian independence and a surge in support for Vox

In Barcelona, Spain’s Catalan leader Quim Torra casts his vote as daughter Helena Torra, wearing yellow, works at the polling station. This election has been marred by heightened tensions over Catalonian independence and a surge in support for Vox

But the most striking development could be the rise of the far-right Vox party, which could even jump to third-largest in parliament, according to polling.

After casting his ballot in Madrid, Sanchez urged Spaniards to head to the polls, saying ‘it is very important that we all participate to strengthen our democracy’ and that the country ‘have the needed stability to be able to form a government’.

The last election produced a near-record 76 percent turnout, which helped Sanchez who had mobilised left-leaning voters to oppose Vox but analysts warn the numbers will likely drop this time, as Spaniards suffer election fatigue.

Voting stations will close at 8pm in Spain, 9pm UK time, with the results expected a few hours later. 

The election comes as Spain finds itself increasingly polarised by the Catalan crisis, which has deepened in recent weeks.

Temperatures have also run high on the election day. A Ciudadanos observer and a pro-independence JxCat party observer argue after a Ciudadanos spokesman Ines Arrimadas cast her vote at a polling station in Barcelona

Temperatures have also run high on the election day. A Ciudadanos observer and a pro-independence JxCat party observer argue after a Ciudadanos spokesman Ines Arrimadas cast her vote at a polling station in Barcelona

Temperatures have also run high on the election day. A Ciudadanos observer and a pro-independence JxCat party observer argue after a Ciudadanos spokesman Ines Arrimadas cast her vote at a polling station in Barcelona

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, today. The polls close at 8pm tonight, 9pm GMT, with results expected to be announced within the next few hours afterwards

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, today. The polls close at 8pm tonight, 9pm GMT, with results expected to be announced within the next few hours afterwards

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, today. The polls close at 8pm tonight, 9pm GMT, with results expected to be announced within the next few hours afterwards

Spanish citizens cast their votes in Madrid, Spain, today. The last election had a record turnout of 76 per cent, but the turnout for this election is expected to be lower as voters suffer from fatigue

Spanish citizens cast their votes in Madrid, Spain, today. The last election had a record turnout of 76 per cent, but the turnout for this election is expected to be lower as voters suffer from fatigue

Spanish citizens cast their votes in Madrid, Spain, today. The last election had a record turnout of 76 per cent, but the turnout for this election is expected to be lower as voters suffer from fatigue

Voters in Barcelona, Catalonia, arrive to cast their votes in Spain's general election. One is holding a dog

Voters in Barcelona, Catalonia, arrive to cast their votes in Spain's general election. One is holding a dog

Voters in Barcelona, Catalonia, arrive to cast their votes in Spain’s general election. One is holding a dog 

Less than a month ago, the Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid, sparking days of angry street protests in Barcelona and other Catalan cities that sometimes turned violent.

More than 600 people were injured in the protests, which saw demonstrators torching barricades and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police.

During a TV election debate conservative PP leader Pablo Casado called for a ‘real government that will put order in Catalonia’.

But the toughest line against the Catalan separatists has come from Vox leader Santiago Abascal.

‘Drastic solutions are needed,’ he said during his final campaign rally on Friday night in Madrid.

He repeated his pledge to end the Catalan crisis by suspending Catalonia’s regional autonomy, banning separatist parties and arresting its regional president, Quim Torra, who has vowed to continue the secession drive.

The crowd responded by chanting ‘Torra to the dungeon’.

Spaniards arrive to cast their votes in the general election - it is expected to return another hung parliament for the country

Spaniards arrive to cast their votes in the general election - it is expected to return another hung parliament for the country

Spaniards arrive to cast their votes in the general election – it is expected to return another hung parliament for the country

Spanish voters queue outside a polling station in Barcelona before casting their votes. No party is expected to win the crucial 176 seats required to gain a working majority in the parliament

Spanish voters queue outside a polling station in Barcelona before casting their votes. No party is expected to win the crucial 176 seats required to gain a working majority in the parliament

Spanish voters queue outside a polling station in Barcelona before casting their votes. No party is expected to win the crucial 176 seats required to gain a working majority in the parliament

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, during the country's general election. In a move that could garner further support the PSOE government has exhumed the body of the country's former dictator Francisco Franco

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, during the country's general election. In a move that could garner further support the PSOE government has exhumed the body of the country's former dictator Francisco Franco

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, during the country’s general election. In a move that could garner further support the PSOE government has exhumed the body of the country’s former dictator Francisco Franco

A woman in a wheelchair casts her vote in Barcelona, Spain. Tensions have been heightened due to calls for Catalan independence and protests in the streets leading up to the election

A woman in a wheelchair casts her vote in Barcelona, Spain. Tensions have been heightened due to calls for Catalan independence and protests in the streets leading up to the election

A woman in a wheelchair casts her vote in Barcelona, Spain. Tensions have been heightened due to calls for Catalan independence and protests in the streets leading up to the election

‘I voted for the right because the most important thing is the unity of Spain and pensions,’ said Rafael Garcia. 

The 84-year-old did not want to say which party got his vote at a polling station in Madrid’s northern Hortaleza neighbourhood where Abascal lives. 

Vox won 24 seats in parliament in the last election in April, in the first significant showing by a far-right faction since Spain’s return to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

This time Vox could double that number, polls suggest.

In recent days, Sanchez has repeatedly raised the alarm about Vox’s ‘aggressive ultra-rightwing’ policies, warning the party would drag the country back to the dark days of Franco’s dictatorship.

‘I thought of not voting… but then I would be upset if the right won with the far-right,’ said Mari Carmen Lopez, a 25-year-old physical therapist, after casting her vote for far-left Podemos in Barcelona.

Two election workers watch as votes are cast in the country's capital Madrid. Polls close at 8pm, or 9pm tonight, with results expected a few hours after they close

Two election workers watch as votes are cast in the country's capital Madrid. Polls close at 8pm, or 9pm tonight, with results expected a few hours after they close

Two election workers watch as votes are cast in the country’s capital Madrid. Polls close at 8pm, or 9pm tonight, with results expected a few hours after they close

Citizens arrive early in the morning to cast their vote in Madrid, Spain. PSOE is not expected to secure enough seats to form a majority in parliament

Citizens arrive early in the morning to cast their vote in Madrid, Spain. PSOE is not expected to secure enough seats to form a majority in parliament

Citizens arrive early in the morning to cast their vote in Madrid, Spain. PSOE is not expected to secure enough seats to form a majority in parliament

Barcelona's mayoress Ada Colau shakes hands with election workers as she arrives to cast her vote in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona's mayoress Ada Colau shakes hands with election workers as she arrives to cast her vote in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona’s mayoress Ada Colau shakes hands with election workers as she arrives to cast her vote in Barcelona, Spain

Spain has been caught in political paralysis since the election of December 2015 when Podemos and business-friendly Ciudadanos entered parliament.

That put an end to decades of dominance of the two main parties, the PP and the Socialists, in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.

But there is a risk Sunday’s vote will only prolong the agony.

With no single party able to secure the required 176 seats for a majority, the Socialists are likely to opt for a minority government, ING analyst Steven Trypsteen said.

‘Voting intentions appear to have changed since the April election. But these changes will not make it easier to form a government,’ he added.

The key leaders in the fourth Spanish general election in as many years

PEDRO SANCHEZ’S SOCIALIST WORKERS’ PARTY (PSOE)

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with wife Maria Begona Gomez Fernandes goes to vote in Madrid, Spain

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with wife Maria Begona Gomez Fernandes goes to vote in Madrid, Spain

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with wife Maria Begona Gomez Fernandes goes to vote in Madrid, Spain

Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez, 47, a trained economist, called the snap election after failing to secure support from other parties after winning the most votes, but no working majority, in an election in April.

Most opinion polls point to the PSOE re-emerging as the largest party but again landing far short of a majority, and probably with fewer seats than in the previous ballot, requiring the support of other parties to form a government.

Recent events, particularly tensions over separatism in Catalonia, have boosted right-wing parties and could reshape the distribution of seats.

On Oct. 24, Sanchez’s caretaker government removed the remains of late dictator General Francisco Franco from a state mausoleum in a historic, symbolically powerful step that could help him mobilize left-wing voters.

PSOE is Spain’s oldest active party and one of two that have dominated the political landscape since Franco’s rule ended with his death in 1975. It has been in government longest since then.

PABLO CASADO’S PEOPLE’S PARTY (PP)

Pablo Casado makes a statement before casting his vote in Spain's general election today

Pablo Casado makes a statement before casting his vote in Spain's general election today

Pablo Casado makes a statement before casting his vote in Spain’s general election today

A conservative, Christian democratic party, and the Socialists’ main rival for decades.

Pablo Casado, a 38-year-old lawyer and economist, became party leader a month after the government of Sanchez’s predecessor Mariano Rajoy was ousted by Sanchez last year.

He obtained PP’s worst ever election result in April with just 66 seats in the 350-seat house, but polls see PP faring much better next week, possibly putting Casado in the position of kingmaker.

Casado has promised to cut taxes and has called for Catalonia to be ‘reconquered’ following the northeastern region’s failed independence bid in 2017.

A critic of Sanchez’s handling of the Catalan issue, Casado is known as a defender of family values, the monarchy and the Catholic Church, and an opponent of abortion and euthanasia.

SANTIAGO ABASCAL’S VOX

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in Madrid, Spain

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in Madrid, Spain

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in Madrid, Spain

An anti-immigration, nationalist party founded in 2013 by former PP members.

In April, Vox became the first far-right party to enter Spain’s parliament since the 1980s, with 24 seats, and polls show it could now become the third-biggest force there, with possibly as many as 44 seats.

Vox opposes gender equality laws and is strongly against autonomy for Spain’s regions.

Its leader Santiago Abascal, 43, is a tough-talking career politician from the Basque country, who harshly criticised the exhumation of Franco and who wants Catalan separatism quashed.

Echoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, he has called for a secure wall to be built around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and for neighbouring Morocco to pay for it.

‘I am a supporter of discrimination,’ he told 7TV Andalucia in 2017.

ALBERT RIVERA’S CIUDADANOS (CITIZENS)

Pro-European Ciudadanos party leader Albert Rivera delivers a speech in July. He has also cast his vote today

Pro-European Ciudadanos party leader Albert Rivera delivers a speech in July. He has also cast his vote today

Pro-European Ciudadanos party leader Albert Rivera delivers a speech in July. He has also cast his vote today

A centre-right, pro-European party originally from Catalonia and part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe that first won Spanish parliament seats in 2015.

Its leader, Albert Rivera, 39, worked in a bank before founding Ciudadanos in 2006.

Rivera, who backed Sanchez in his failed 2016 bid for premiership, refused him support after April election, leaving him no option but to seek support from left-wing Unidas Podemos.

Polls show Ciudadanos would lose seats after several senior figures quit over regional deals it has struck with the far-right. Ciudadanos is a stalwart defender of Spain’s unity and strongly opposes any concessions to separatists.

PABLO IGLESIAS’ UNIDAS PODEMOS (TOGETHER WE CAN)

Unidas Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias heads to cast his vote in La Navata, Spain, today

Unidas Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias heads to cast his vote in La Navata, Spain, today

Unidas Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias heads to cast his vote in La Navata, Spain, today

An alliance of left-wing Podemos, United Left, and other parties, created in the run-up to the 2016 election and rooted in the anti-austerity protest movement. The name was tweaked in 2019 to make it female to reflect its pro-feminism stance.

Its leader, political scientist and lecturer Pablo Iglesias, 41, founded Podemos in 2014.

Podemos had tried in vain to negotiate a governing coalition deal with PSOE up to the very last minute in September, but Sanchez ultimately refused to give them cabinet posts, saying that Iglesias’ excessive demands had torpedoed such a solution.

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Little girl, 7, who dreamed of having her birthday party at Costco has her wish granted

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Costco has hosted a seven-year-old child and 20 of her closest friends at one of their wholesalers, supplying lolly bags, a balloon garland, table cloths and even a gift for the birthday girl.

Penny Rudge’s daughter Athena asked for her birthday party to be held at Costco in Docklands, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, in November.  

‘Why would a then six year old want a party at a wholesaler?’ her mother wrote on Facebook.

Penny Rudge's daughter Athena (pictured) asked for her birthday party to be held at Costco in Docklands, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, in Novembe

Penny Rudge's daughter Athena (pictured) asked for her birthday party to be held at Costco in Docklands, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, in Novembe

Penny Rudge’s daughter Athena (pictured) asked for her birthday party to be held at Costco in Docklands, an inner city suburb of Melbourne, in Novembe

‘It might be that she has only happy memories in there or that she loves shopping for bulk snacks or maybe that our whole family are usually together when we go there or, most likely, it’s her love of those pizza slices that are bigger than her head.’

Mrs Rudge was worried the request was an impossible feat to pull off and compromised by telling Athena they could take five friends to a movie and then eat in the Costco food court. 

‘So I went in and asked a manager for permission to bring five kids into the food court and what happened next blew my mind,’ she said. 

The manager offered to host the entire party for Athena, and offered to have as many as 20 children attend. 

Mrs Rudge was worried the request was an impossible feat to pull off and compromised by telling Athena they could take five friends to a movie and then eat in the Costco food court

Mrs Rudge was worried the request was an impossible feat to pull off and compromised by telling Athena they could take five friends to a movie and then eat in the Costco food court

Mrs Rudge was worried the request was an impossible feat to pull off and compromised by telling Athena they could take five friends to a movie and then eat in the Costco food court

They were allowed to pick up things from Costco

They were allowed to pick up things from Costco

And were given their own corner of the food court

And were given their own corner of the food court

‘Twenty kids were now invited with their parents who were given a free access pass to shop inside Costco for the day,’ she said

‘Twenty kids were now invited with their parents who were given a free access pass to shop inside Costco for the day,’ she said.

Mrs Rudge coordinated with team member Helen, their unofficial party planner, to organise a cake, games and food for the November 9 affair. 

‘Helen and the Costco management organised for a section of the food court to be cornered off just for us,’ she said.

‘There were four big tables with bottled water and a personalised Costco badge for each child.

Mrs Rudge coordinated with team member Helen, their unofficial party planner, to organise a cake, games and food for the November 9 affair

Mrs Rudge coordinated with team member Helen, their unofficial party planner, to organise a cake, games and food for the November 9 affair

Mrs Rudge coordinated with team member Helen, their unofficial party planner, to organise a cake, games and food for the November 9 affair

Athena was given a gift from the Costco staff

Athena was given a gift from the Costco staff

It was a musical piano mat

It was a musical piano mat

‘We thought that was it for the surprises but Athena was then presented with a huge gift and every child was given a bag filled with goodies such as snacks, activity book, a kids novel and a Costco hat,’ she said

One of the Costco managers, Charlie, was only too happy to help out with her special day

One of the Costco managers, Charlie, was only too happy to help out with her special day

One of the Costco managers, Charlie, was only too happy to help out with her special day

‘There was also a cake table adorned with a Costco tablecloth and a big, gorgeous balloon garland made just for Athena.’

After playing a few games Mrs Rudge bought the children hot dogs and pizza slices, which she called the ‘cheapest party food ever’.

Once they had eaten, the store managers David and Charlie brought out a beautiful cake for Athena.  

‘We thought that was it for the surprises but Athena was then presented with a huge gift and every child was given a bag filled with goodies such as snacks, activity book, a kids novel and a Costco hat,’ she said.

The gift was a musical piano mat, which plays a tune each time the child treads on a key.

While Costco don’t coordinate parties normally Mrs Rudge was extremely grateful for the hard work they put into her little girl’s day and they are no doubt customers for life.  

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Why Australian workers will have less holidays in 2020 than ever before

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Australians will have fewer days off in 2020 than they did this year, thanks to one less public holiday and the fact that days are spread apart meaning less chance to extend breaks.

With Easter Monday and Anzac Day falling within two days of each other in 2019, workers were able to book a 10-day break using just three days of annual leave.

But there’s no such luck in 2020, when Anzac Day falls on a Saturday leaving workers with no day off during the week. Easter also falls 13 days earlier than Anzac Day.

There is also the issue of Christmas. In 2019, Christmas falls on a Wednesday, meaning most organisations will close for 16 days from Monday December 23 until Monday January 6. 

But with Christmas Day falling on a Friday in 2020, businesses are likely to close later, and workers could be ‘out of office’ for as little as 11 days over the festive period. 

The vast majority of Australians will have shorter holidays in 2020, thanks to Anzac Day falling on a Saturday and Christmas Day falling on a Friday, making it likely that businesses will close for a shorter period over the festive season (stock image)

The vast majority of Australians will have shorter holidays in 2020, thanks to Anzac Day falling on a Saturday and Christmas Day falling on a Friday, making it likely that businesses will close for a shorter period over the festive season (stock image)

The vast majority of Australians will have shorter holidays in 2020, thanks to Anzac Day falling on a Saturday and Christmas Day falling on a Friday, making it likely that businesses will close for a shorter period over the festive season (stock image)

WHAT YOU ARE SET TO LOSE IN 2020 

– Australians – except WA residents and state workers in the ACT – will lose out on one public holiday for Anzac Day in 2020.

– Workers stand to lose five days off over the festive period next year, thanks to Christmas Day falling on a Friday. Businesses are likely to operate right up until Christmas Eve.

– While Australians will still get the traditional four-day break at Easter – from Good Friday through to Easter Monday – it won’t be possible to book a holiday that spans the long weekend and Anzac Day, which stretched annual leave by an extra seven days in 2019.

Total days lost: 13

ANZAC DAY

Anzac Day is celebrated on April 25 each year, regardless of which day it falls, with no day in lieu given if it falls on a weekend.

In 2019, Anzac Day fell on Thursday April 25, giving Australians the day off for military commemorations.

But because 2020 is a leap year, the remembrance day falls on Saturday April 25, meaning workers receive no day off the following Monday April 27.

The only exceptions are employees in Western Australia and public sector workers in the ACT, where Monday April 28 will be given as a holiday next year.

ANNUAL LEAVE 2019 

ANZAC DAY

In 2019, Anzac Day fell on Thursday April 25, giving Australians the day off for military commemorations.

 

 

EASTER BREAK

In 2019, Easter Monday and Anzac Day fell within two days of each other, on April 22 and April 25 respectively.

This gave Australians the chance to book a 10-day break – from Good Friday, April 19 until Sunday April 28 – using just three days of annual leave.

 

 

CHRISTMAS CLOSURE

In 2019, Christmas falls on a Wednesday, meaning most organisations will close from Monday December 23 until Monday January 6.

This gives workers 16 days off in total. 

ANNUAL LEAVE 2020 

ANZAC DAY

In 2020, Anzac Day will fall on Saturday April 25.

Because no day in lieu is given if the remembrance day falls on a weekend, there will be no day off the following Monday April 27.

EASTER BREAK

In 2020, the Easter long weekend falls two weeks earlier, from April 10 – 13.

The closest public holiday to Easter will be three weeks later in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, or five weeks earlier in Western Australia – making it impossible to strategically book leave.

CHRISTMAS CLOSURE

In 2020, December 25 falls on a Friday.

This would make Friday December 18 the last working day, which may be too early for businesses to down tools.

Bosses are more likely to close offices on Thursday December 24 and reopen on Monday January 4 – giving workers just 11 days off.

EASTER BREAK

In 2019, Easter practically collided with Anzac Day – falling on April 21 and 25 respectively – giving Australians two public holidays in one week.

Workers had the chance to take a 10-day break – from Friday 19 April to Sunday 28 April inclusive – using just three days of annual leave.

But in 2020, Easter weekend falls two weeks earlier- from April 10 until 13 – which is nowhere near another public holiday, making it difficult to strategically book trips around existing days off.

An early Easter will make it tricky for Australians to leverage their annual leave around existing days off in 2020 (stock image)

An early Easter will make it tricky for Australians to leverage their annual leave around existing days off in 2020 (stock image)

An early Easter will make it tricky for Australians to leverage their annual leave around existing days off in 2020 (stock image)

WHY 2020 IS BAD NEWS FOR ANNUAL LEAVE IN AUSTRALIA

· No Anzac Day public holiday: In 2019, Anzac Day (25 April) fell on a Thursday, giving Australians a mid-week public holiday. However, 2020 is not so lucky, with Anzac Day falling on a Saturday. This means Aussie workers – all but those in Western Australia and public sector workers in the ACT – won’t be given a public holiday on the following Monday.

· Shorter Easter break: Australians won’t be able to hack their way to a longer Easter break, because the closest public holiday to Easter is three weeks later. If your workplace felt like a ghost town during the Anzac Day-Easter period this year, it’s because the two events created three public holidays in less than a week. 

Many were granted a 10-day break by taking just three days of annual leave. Next year, the Easter period falls 12 days earlier (10-13 April), and the closest public holiday will be three weeks later (Labour Day or ‘May Day’ on Monday 4 May) in Queensland and Northern Territory, four weeks earlier (Labour Day, Monday 9 March) in Victoria, Tasmania and (Canberra Day, Monday 9 March) in the ACT, or five weeks earlier (Labour Day, Monday 2 March) in Western Australia. Unlike this year, Aussie workers won’t be able to combine the four-day Easter break with another public holiday.

· Shorter Christmas closure: For those who have office shutdown over the festive period, the Christmas closure will be three days shorter next year. With Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday this year, most organisations have set their forced closures from Monday 23 December to Monday 6 January – giving Australians a 16-day holiday. Next year, however, Christmas falls on a Friday and the first Monday after New Year’s Day is January 4. 

For those who have office shutdowns, Monday 21 December will be too early for many organisations to force their closures. Bosses are more likely to close their offices from Thursday 24 December and re-open on Monday, 4 January – giving workers just 11 days off. 

Source: InsureandGo

CHRISTMAS CLOSURE 

Typically, offices close for two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s.

In 2019, Christmas falls on a Wednesday, meaning most organisations will close from Monday December 23 until Monday January 6.

This gives workers 16 days off in total.

But with December 25 falling on a Friday in 2020, a two-week closure would make Friday December 18 the last working day before Christmas.

This may be too early for businesses to down tools, with bosses more likely to close their offices on Thursday December 24 and reopen on Monday January 4 – giving workers just 11 days off.

Some organisations may choose to close their offices earlier Christmas week.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS THAT WILL STAY THE SAME IN 2020 

· Australia Day public holiday: Every year, the Australia Day public holiday falls on 26 January. That is, unless the 26 January falls on a weekend, in which case, Australians get the day off on the following Monday (in 2020, it’s Monday 27 January). Nothing changes next year – as in 2019, workers can take a 10-day holiday by combining it with two weekends and four days of annual leave from Tuesday 28 January to Friday 31 January inclusive, for example.

· Queen’s Birthday: The public holiday for the Queen’s Birthday falls on a Monday each year, enabling Aussies to take a three or four-day long weekend with up to one annual leave day. As in 2019, residents in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT will celebrate this holiday in June (Monday 8 June in 2020), while Western Australians will celebrate it in September (Monday 28 September) and Queenslanders in October (Monday 5 October 2020).

· Mid-week public holidays: Once again, Victorian and Queensland residents are in the enviable position of enjoying a mid-week public holiday in 2020. For Victorians, the Melbourne Cup falls on Tuesday 3 November and for Queensland residents, Ekka Day is on Wednesday 12 August. Residents can choose to take one day of annual leave for a four-day break, or four days of annual leave to enjoy a nine-day getaway.

Source: InsureandGo

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Teenage killerJamie Lee Dolheguy dressed in cosplay choked to death a stranger she met online

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A ‘damaged’ teenager who choked to death a man she met online had searched online for ways to ‘kill and get away with it’ in the hours before his alleged murder.

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury in Victoria has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong. 

Molheguy had only four months earlier been allowed to live on her own after her Department of Human Services carers deemed it was safe to do so. 

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

Maulin Rathod had only just met Jamie Lee Dolheguy when she killed him in what she claims was a sex game gone wrong

Maulin Rathod had only just met Jamie Lee Dolheguy when she killed him in what she claims was a sex game gone wrong

 Maulin Rathod had only just met Jamie Lee Dolheguy when she killed him in what she claims was a sex game gone wrong

The deeply disturbed teen had lived for years under the 24-hour a day watch of two DHS minders, who catered to her ‘complex’ needs. 

Dolheguy had never met her 24-year old victim when she strangled him to death. 

The Supreme Court of Victoria heard there was no dispute the then 18-year old had killed Mr Rathod, but whether she intended to kill him. 

Mr Rathod had made the mistake of contacting Dolheguy through a dating app called ‘Plenty of Fish’. 

Dolheguy’s profile stated it was her first time dating and she was ‘not without flaws’. 

The teenager claimed she had a borderline personality disorder and suicidal tendencies. 

She further claimed she had two ‘extreme fetishes’, including ‘bondage and discipline’ and being ‘gang raped against her will’.

On the night Mr Rathod would die, Dolheguy had been angry that she did not have access to her medications.  

The court heard she had been abusive to her social workers when Mr Rathod made contact. 

‘Let’s hang. Are you keen?’ he asked. 

Jamie Lee Dolheguy is led into the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday. She had pleaded not guilty to murder amid claims she was involved in a sex game gone wrong

Jamie Lee Dolheguy is led into the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday. She had pleaded not guilty to murder amid claims she was involved in a sex game gone wrong

Jamie Lee Dolheguy is led into the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday. She had pleaded not guilty to murder amid claims she was involved in a sex game gone wrong

Jamie Lee Dolheguy was into cosplay, choking and gang bangs. She has been charged with the murder of a man she met online

Jamie Lee Dolheguy was into cosplay, choking and gang bangs. She has been charged with the murder of a man she met online

Jamie Lee Dolheguy was into cosplay, choking and gang bangs. She has been charged with the murder of a man she met online 

Dolheguy told him she was and gave him her address. 

‘I’ll put on my favourite perfume,’ she texted him. 

In the hours before he arrived,  prosecutor Patrick Bourke said Dolheguy put her murderous plan into play. 

She Googled ‘I’m going to kill someone tonight for fun’ before clicking on a link titled `10 Steps For Committing A Murder And Get Away With It’. 

When Mr Rathod arrived, she asked him to ‘go slow’. 

The court heard she was dressed up in cosplay as they chatted in her bedroom. 

Mr Bourke said whatever happened next was only known from what Dolheguy told police herself when interviewed. 

She told police she warned Mr Rathod she had ‘psychopathic tendencies’ and ‘wasn’t safe’. 

The pair discussed ‘choke play’ before deciding on a signal to indicate he was not comfortable. 

The supposed signal was a simple ‘tap’.

Dolheguy then told police she choked her hapless victim, who proceeded to kick and swing his arms about. 

‘It’ll be okay,’ she whispered to him, telling him to tap. 

Eventually he stopped moving altogether. 

It was then that she wrapped a cord around his neck and pulled even tighter before choking him with another cord. 

‘So he wouldn’t wake up,’ she told police. 

She then called the Sunbury police station, telling an officer: ‘I think I killed someone … it feels so good. I don’t want to be a killer.’

Maulin Rathod applied to a depraved online ad posted by his eventual killer. He supposedly allowed himself to be choked in a sex game that went very wrong

Maulin Rathod applied to a depraved online ad posted by his eventual killer. He supposedly allowed himself to be choked in a sex game that went very wrong

Maulin Rathod applied to a depraved online ad posted by his eventual killer. He supposedly allowed himself to be choked in a sex game that went very wrong

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

Jamie Lee Dolheguy, 20, of Sunbury has pleaded not guilty to murdering Maulin Rathod in July 2018 amid claims he died in a depraved sex game gone wrong.

While paramedics were able to resuscitate Mr Rathod, he died a day later after life support was pulled. 

Mr Bourke said Dolheguy later told detectives she had ‘intended to kill him’. 

‘She killed him because she wanted to,’ he said. ‘It was her desire … she acted on her desire to kill him.’

Mr Bourke claimed Dolheguy ignored her victim’s taps and struggles and murdered him. 

Dolheguy’s barrister Sharon Lacy agreed her client had killed Mr Rathod, but said the jury would be satisfied it was unintentional. 

‘She’s a very damaged person,’ she said. ‘With complex needs.’

Ms Lacy said Dolheguy had been neglected as a child and had been cared for by the state since she was a 10-year old. 

She told the court her client had told police she was mentally unstable on the night of the alleged murder. 

‘It’s  like a warzone with myself,’ she told police. ‘I was hoping he would run away … call the police.”

Ms Lacy said Dolheguy told police her mind was at war within itself. 

‘Arguments, warzone, panic. It’s like chaos,’ Dolheguy told detectives. 

‘Can you be satisfied she had the state of mind required for murder,’ Ms Lacy asked. 

The trial continues. 

 

 

 

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