Qld Labor has secret plan to govern

by admin on July 30th, 2019

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Queensland Labor claims it has kept a secret plan to make the transition to government since before the election.


There have been reports the shock results of the state election on Saturday night also caught the party, reduced to seven MPs three years ago, completely by surprise.

Former Labor treasurer Keith De Lacy even says the inexperience of the party’s potential ministers could have a destabilising effect on the economy.

But a spokesman says Labor has had a plan “known to only a handful of people”, including former long-time treasurer Terry Mackenroth, to move to government since before the election was called.

Labor Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk’s office drew up the plan with input from Mr Mackenroth and other senior state Labor figures.

“It is ready to be implemented should Labor be called on to form government,” the spokesman told AAP.

However, neither the Liberal National Party (LNP) nor Labor has secured the minimum 45 seats needed to form a majority government.

Labor held 42 seats and the LNP 38 with five seats too close to call on Tuesday afternoon.

Two Katter’s Australian Party MPs – Rob Katter and Shane Knuth – and independent Peter Wellington could hold the balance of power.

The three crossbenchers are set to hold formal talks with Ms Palaszczuk and an LNP negotiation team on Wednesday.

The potential kingmakers have highlighted firmer scrutiny of government as their key priority.

Mr Knuth said both major parties had used their huge majorities in the past to “smash through legislation” that “devastated this state”.

“We are not in love with the Labor party or the LNP,” he said.

“I have not seen good governance in this last 11 years and we are welcoming of the fact that it (the election) is bringing back a balance.”

In the event of a hung parliament, Mr Wellington would only support the party that was committed to bringing back strong oversight powers.

“That’s front and centre,” he told AAP.

Mr Wellington also took aim at political donations and said there needed to be a proper investigation into the previous LNP government.

“There have been some serious allegations raised during this election that have to be investigated by an independent body that we all have confidence in,” he said.

“People do not make sizeable donations to a candidate or a political party unless they want something in return.”

No matter if Labor forms a majority or a minority government, senior Labor MP Jackie Trad promised it would be a mature, disciplined government focused on jobs growth.

“We will roll up our sleeves and we will get to work, working, listening and collaborating with everyone, the business community, unions, everyone,” Ms Trad said.

The LNP continued to lie low on Tuesday, insisting they would elect a new leadership team when the count was complete.

Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck flaps into Melbourne

by admin on July 30th, 2019

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Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck has landed in Melbourne, bringing all its sensory delights with it.


The internationally renowned chef’s three Michelin Star restaurant has made the journey from Bray in Berkshire, England, to Melbourne, where it will remain for three months while its Bray residence gets a makeover.

And there’s a reason the maverick chef chose this particular corner of the world.

“Australia has gone food crazy!” Blumenthal said. “They get so excited, so excited about food!”

The famous 15 course menu, centred around molecular gastronomy, will remain the same during its sojourn, although diners will get a taste of Australia too.

“Australia has gone food crazy! They get so excited, so excited about food!”

“We’ve got some beautiful marron from Western Australia,” said head chef Johnny Lake.

“Our lamb is coming from South Australia.”

There’ll also be local wine and whiskey from Tasmania.

The multi-sensory menu, which includes The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Snail Porridge and Sounds of the Sea, reads like a story book, and that’s no accident considering Heston Blumenthal’s inspiration.

“Alice in Wonderland’s the one that does it for me, because the way Lewis Caroll writes, the metaphor side of it is really power and also I love the way he gets Alice to make logic out of surreal situations.”

“It’s theatre, it’s going down the rabbit hole into another land – it’s fun, it should be fun.”

From $525 a head, or $725 with matching wines, dining at The Fat Duck isn’t exactly cheap.

But that didn’t stop more than 250,000 people entering the ballot. Of them, 15, 000 were randomly selected.

“It’s theatre, it’s going down the rabbit hole into another land – it’s fun, it should be fun.”

Ryan Perry was one of them, flying in from Sydney with three others for the opening lunch.

“They’re things you’re not going to eat every day,” he said.

“It’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity, he’s only out here for six months, you know why wouldn’t you want to come here and experience it.”

Stephanie Grentell feels the same way.

“It’s not about the money it’s about the experience, this is something we’ll talk about for the rest of our lives.”


Watchdog bites back at bugging inquiry

by admin on July 30th, 2019

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NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour has warned a parliamentary inquiry any rushed judgment could jeopardise his long-running and much-criticised inquiry into a police bugging scandal.


Mr Barbour defended his two-year probe into a controversial internal police phone tapping operation in which more than 100 officers were bugged, saying critics had failed to understand the huge scale of the investigation.

The independent public watchdog also rejected the claims of NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas that he had tried to silence whistleblowers in the 15-year-old scandal that reaches to the highest levels of the NSW police force.

Mr Barbour faced the NSW Upper House inquiry into his investigation, Operation Prospect, after criticism from police and journalists, that he was hunting down whistleblowers.

Operation Prospect is examining the handling of investigations into Operation Mascot and Operation Florida – two police internal affairs operations from 2000 that allegedly obtained warrants to bug more than 100 officers using false information.

Subjects of bugging found out their names were on warrants after receiving them anonymously through the mail.

Mr Kaldas said he was targeted by officers with whom he was in conflict.

He said the ombudsman humiliated and denigrated him during questions that focused on how he got the leaked warrant rather than any bugging.

But Mr Barbour said he rejected the claims of Mr Kaldas and other critics.

“The conclusions that they have drawn from the durations and subject matters of their own examinations are baseless,” he said.

Mr Barbour revealed that while he had questioned Mr Kaldas for one day he had questioned Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn – the team leader on Operation Mascot – for four days.

He said he did not ask the targets of bugging about how decisions to bug them were taken because they would not have useful information.

“To suggest that my inquiry is focused on targeting whistleblowers is quite simply false,” Mr Barbour said.

Mr Barbour defended the time his $4.9 million investigation has taken, saying it had accumulated more than one million pages of evidence.

He revealed that he is investigating 80 warrants in which Mr Kaldas was named, not just two that had been mentioned previously, and 52 warrants in which a journalist, Steve Barrett, was named.

He refused to tell the committee whether any officer he interviewed had claimed to have a reason for bugging Mr Kaldas.

Mr Barbour stood by his questioning of bugging targets about the leaks, however, saying the removal and distribution of confidential police records had to be investigated.

He warned the committee to not to pass judgments based on incomplete evidence, saying it could make final resolution of the bugging scandal “all the more difficult and possibly impossible”.

Mr Barbour said he would release his report in June.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione will appear before the committee on Wednesday.

Phipps happy to stay put while rivals go

by admin on July 30th, 2019

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Incumbent Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps has no intention of joining his major rivals for a World Cup spot on the European rugby gravy train and wants to stay in Australia for the long term.


It was reported on Tuesday that Australia’s most experienced Test halfback, Will Genia, was believed to have signed a three-year deal with French club Stade Francais, starting after the World Cup.

Also heading to France after that tournament to join Montpelier is Brumbies halfback Nic White, who was the main rival to Phipps during the Wallabies 2014 campaign.

Happily staying put in Australia is 26-year-old Sydney-born Phipps, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2014, when he returned to the Waratahs after three seasons with Melbourne Rebels.

Phipps was a prominent part of the NSW Super Rugby title-winning team and played in all 14 Tests last year, doubling his tally of caps to 28.

He started the last nine Tests, after coming off the bench behind White in the first five.

Phipps signed a two-year contract extension with Australia and NSW in the final week of 2014, tying himself to those teams to the end of the 2017 season.

“I’m very happy with the position I’m in at the moment,” Phipps told AAP on Tuesday.

“I love NSW and I feel I was playing some of my best footy last year, just because I’m back home around my parents and my family and friends from school and uni.

“For me it was a no-brainer.

“I want to stay here. I’ve worked so hard to get into the position I am now why would I go off overseas when there’s still a lot here to complete?

“It’s not like I’ve done anything in the game yet that I can really hang my hat on.

“I just want to be around and working hard at getting Australia back to that top position in the world and NSW back where they belong and try to be a part of it all in the long term.”

Phipps felt both he and NSW would need to improve greatly.

“I don’t think you can be comfortable with what happened last year, and sit back on your heels about that,” Phipps said.

“The improvement that we’re going to need as a team in the `Tahs just to be competing again and improvement in my game that I’m going to need, is pretty astronomical at the moment.”

Phipps is set to make his first pre-season appearance in the Waratahs final trial on Friday against the Chiefs.

Black Caps overwhelm Pakistan in Napier

by admin on July 30th, 2019

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New Zealand have banked two thumping wins over Pakistan heading into the World Cup following a 119-run rout in the second One-Day International in Napier.


In the last official ODI for both teams before the tournament begins next week, New Zealand accrued a mammoth 369-5 before dismissing the tourists for 250 in 43.1 overs.

Rapid centuries to Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor helped build the Black Caps’ fifth-largest score.

Pakistan maintained a slim chance of chasing it down on a flat McLean Park pitch when Mohammad Hafeez (86) and Ahmed Shehzad (55) put on 111 for the opening stand.

However, they capitulated as the required run rate grew, losing steady wickets with only captain Misbah-ul-Haq (45) getting past 13.

Daniel Vettori (1-41 off 10 overs) was at his miserly best, removing danger man Shahid Afridi cheaply, while fellow-spinner Nathan McCullum and seamers Tim Southee, Adam Milne and Grant Elliott all bagged two wickets in a cohesive attack.

Following a seven-wicket loss in Wellington on Saturday, Pakistan’s stocks sunk lower on Tuesday, including news that frontline pace bowler Junaid Khan has been ruled out of the World Cup after failing a fitness test on a thigh injury.

Apart from towering paceman Mohammad Irfan (2-52), their bowlers were picked off with ease, firstly by openers Martin Guptill (76) and Brendon McCullum (31) and then by Williamson (112 off 88 balls) and Taylor (102 not out off 70).

Williamson enhanced his world class reputation while Taylor’s rollicking knock finished with 10 runs off the last two balls of the innings to reach the 100th ODI century by a New Zealander.

It was a 12th ton for Taylor and the sixth for Williamson, who has scored 1014 runs from his last 16 innings at an average of 67.6.

Captain McCullum says his team improved on their 4-2 win over Sri Lanka last month.

“You have to be happy with where we’re at. We’ve played probably a couple of perfect games,” he said.

“We’ve had an outstanding schedule in our conditions, it’s the ideal World Cup preparation for us so there’s no excuses.

“The challenge is to maintain that freshness and momentum that we’ve built up over the last little while.”

Counterpart Misbah has overseen four losses in New Zealand, including setbacks in two warm-ups against an invitation team.

He says his team’s batting is seriously underdone while their bowling at the death needs considerable improvement.

“It was really tough work, I think we’re nowhere near our best, he said.”

New Zealand play unofficial warm-up games against Zimbabwe and South Africa in Christchurch next week before hosting the World Cup opener against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval, Christchurch on February 14.

Pakistan play their first game against India in Adelaide a day later.

English clubs hit spending record despite sluggish January sales

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Despite clubs’ “relative restraint” in January, the total spending in 2014-15 surpassed the 2013-14 record of 760 million pounds, Deloitte said.


The amount spent in January was far less than the 225 million pounds record for the winter established in January 2011.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte who have been monitoring the spending of clubs for the last two decades, said: “Given the record level of spending seen in the summer, it is not entirely surprising that we haven’t seen a new record for the January window.”

The biggest spenders were champions Manchester City, league leaders Chelsea and Champions League perennials Arsenal, who between them accounted for around half of the total, according to the firm.

The window ended on Monday more with a whimper than a bang with the biggest deal of the day being Chelsea’s 35 million euros (£26.4 million) for Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado from Italian club Fiorentina.

The Cuadrado deal was part-funded by the English club’s sale of Andre Schurrle to German side Wolfsburg for 22 million pounds.

But the last-minute shopping spree often associated with the closing of the January transfer window failed to materialise as Europe’s top clubs largely kept their powder dry.

The lack of trading was unusually light, leaving presenters of Sky Sports News’ much-hyped deadline day coverage programme, who bizarrely all wear yellow ties for the day, desperately searching for something to talk about.

City’s biggest move came when they signed Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony from Swansea City earlier for 25 million pounds while Manchester United’s only arrival of note was former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer.

UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules have made it less likely that clubs sign players without first off-loading some of their squad, stalling the usual merry-go-round.

Transfers of players from the Premier League to other European leagues is also hindered by the huge salaries.

The reluctance of club managers to part with players at such a delicate phase of the season has also become an increasing factor in the mid-season window.

Speaking to the BBC, former Hull City chairman Paul Duffen explained the lack of January activity.

“Getting players out in the market, there are problems such as liquidity. Clubs don’t have it, apart from Chelsea today,” he said. “There is the danger in January for a player that if it goes wrong, it could harm their career.

“They could find they go on loan at a club who get relegated and end up in a worse situation than they were.”

(Additional writing and reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

WA town’s residents defy fire evacuation

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Around 40 residents have chosen to remain in the “undefendable” township of Northcliffe, which is in the path of an out-of-control bushfire.


The town in West Australia’s far south is under imminent threat from fire and it is not safe to stay and defend, authorities say.

Householders have been urged to leave to the north towards Pemberton with most of Northcliffe’s 600 residents evacuated.

About 240 firefighters and 60 support personnel are battling the blaze that has burnt 25,000 hectares since it was sparked by lightning at Shannon National Park on Friday.

Shire of Manjimup president Wade DeCampo told AAP an unoccupied house owned by former councillor, the late Tom Fahey, has been lost in the fire.

A southerly wind change on Tuesday evening put Northcliffe directly in the path of the blaze, with the front only five kilometres away.

Despite the emergency warning, some locals chose to stay put, indicating they would defend their properties, Mr DeCampo said.

He urged residents not to leave it too late to evacuate.

“People won’t believe it will hit the town,” Mr DeCampo said.

“It’s their home, it’s their castle, they’re willing to risk their lives.”

Northcliffe Hotel publican Steve McGavin told AAP he took his two grandchildren to the Pemberton evacuation centre after police told him to evacuate.

Mr McGavin said the family was now heading to Margaret River to be with the children’s mother rather than spend another night on bunk beds.

He said the town had faced fires before but they’d never been told to evacuate.

Mr DeCampo said the windshift meant the next 12 hours would be critical for emergency services.

“They cannot see an end point to this fire,” he said.

Residents are being told the fire could burn up to 100,000 hectares and Pemberton – the current evacuation meeting point – may also have to be evacuated.

DFES says the fire is moving at more than 500 metres an hour with spot fires starting up to 100 metres ahead of the front.

More than 100 Victorian firefighters have been flown to WA to help tackle the blaze.

Bridgetown catteries and dog kennels are providing free housing for the pets of people who have evacuated, while the local brigade is collecting livestock from paddocks.

WA shopping centre blast kills two men

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Two men have died after an explosion at a Perth shopping centre where they were carrying out electrical maintenance.


Two other men were seriously injured in Tuesday’s blast, after which witnesses reported seeing people running from the scene on fire.

Police said it was believed all four men were working near an electrical transformer at the rear of a Woolworths supermarket at Galleria Shopping Centre in suburban Morley at around 9.30am.

Witness Jonathan McDonagh described the scene as horrific, panicked and rushed.

“I came driving in and saw three people come running out … they were on fire,” he told AAP.

“I had the radio on and didn’t hear the bang, but I saw a puff of smoke.

“A young man on the ground, he was dead.

“I saw another moving around, obviously not OK.

“I gave him a good helping hand, as much as I could.

“They were really burnt badly.”

Mr McDonagh was among several people who helped the injured, taking off his shirt and using it to put out the flames. Other bystanders were dousing the men with water.

Another witness said: “It was just `whoosh’ and then there were these guys coming out and hitting the deck and then ripping their gear off.”

Stephen Beer from Federation Centres, which manages the Galleria, said the accident occurred during routine electrical maintenance.

The exact cause of the explosion is unknown but lightning has been ruled out, and EnergySafe and WorkSafe are investigating.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has cordoned off the scene.

High Energy Service Pty Ltd, a privately owned company that services the high voltage electrical industry, said the four men were their employees and subcontractors.

“This is a truly tragic day and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased persons, and those of the injured employees,” the firm said in a statement.

“Our staff are currently working with DFES to ensure the site is safe.

“We will be fully co-operating with all the relevant authorities in their investigations and will be conducting our own investigation.

“Our focus at this moment is supporting those injured people and their families and our other employees.”

The three injured men were rushed to Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition with serious burns.

One of the men had burns covering 80 per cent of his body and was conscious and breathing when paramedics attended.

Hours later, police said the man had died.

A woman who was trying to assist the injured suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Several other people were treated for shock and smoke inhalation on the spot, but didn’t need to be taken to hospital.

Mr Beer said a large section of the centre, the Woolworths/Target mall, would remained isolated and closed for the time being.

A Woolworths spokeswoman stressed the explosion did not occur in the supermarket or areas managed by Woolworths.

Lumumba joins Demons’ AFL leaders

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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Former Collingwood star Heritier Lumumba has made an immediate impact at Melbourne, joining their leadership group for the upcoming AFL season.


Lumumba is part of a six-man group that will have Nathan Jones as the skipper.

It will be the first time since Brad Green led the Demons in 2011 that they have not had co-captains.

Jack Grimes, who stepped down from the captaincy after last season, remains in the leadership group.

Lumumba is in his first year at Melbourne after a successful but occasionally rocky spell at Collingwood.

“It shows what high standards he has,” coach Paul Roos said.

“There are a lot of rumours, a lot of talk about Heritier, which surprised me.

“The players would agree, we’ve seen nothing but high standards, nothing but a guy who’s been compliant and wants to drive the group.

“For him to be named in such a short space of time, it gives you an idea of how highly regarded he is already by the guys at Melbourne.”

Jones became co-captain last season and was the obvious choice to lead the team again.

“We’ll continue to raise the bar and raise the standards as leaders as much as we can,” the star midfielder said.

“I’m really confident in the current list of players we’ve got and the direction the footy club has taken, that we’ll be back to being a great footy club again.”

Roos said he had an open mind whether the Demons should continue with co-captains.

“I’m never 100 per cent sold … one captain, two captains, three captains – I’ve seen them work in a lot of different formats,” he said.

“We were really comfortable, as the players were and as the leadership group was, to go with one captain.”

Lynden Dunn was rewarded for improved form with the vice-captaincy, while Daniel Cross and Chris Dawes are the other members of the leadership group.

“For him to be named vice-captain is a very, very good effort,” Roos said.

Lumumba and Dawes were members of Collingwood’s 2010 premiership team, while Cross played in preliminary finals at the Western Bulldogs.

Jones and Dunn have endured Melbourne’s ongoing lean period, with the club finishing second-bottom last year despite definite improvement.

“There’s a really good mix of guys who understand how difficult it’s been, but also some guys who’ve had some real success, who can continue to raise standards around here also,” Roos said.

Ebola fighters donate $45,000 to Liberals

by admin on June 30th, 2019

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A company awarded a $20 million federal government contract to fight Ebola in Africa donated $45,000 to the Liberal Party.


Australian Electoral Commission party financial disclosures for 2013/14 show Aspen Medical gave $30,000 to the federal Liberals.

There is no date for the individual payment, but the party financial return is dated October 20, 2014.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on November 5 that Aspen Medical would be paid $20 million to operate a UK-built Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.

A spokesman for the prime minister told AAP that contract was decided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in accordance with usual procurement procedures.

“Aspen – an Australian company – had a well-established track record of delivery, including in West Africa, and was able to deliver a timely response which is saving lives,” the spokesman said.

The AEC noted that a further $15,000 was provided to the Liberals’ ACT division.

But an amendment to the ACT return included the note: “Funds incorrectly paid into account. Funds returned to Aspen Medical.”

Labor received a $1500 donation from Aspen during the 2013/14 financial year.

Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon says the Liberals should pay all of the money back to Aspen to avoid perceptions of a conflict of interest.

“Mr Abbott as prime minister, who is clearly in an increasingly difficult situation, would be wise to show some leadership on this,” she told AAP on Tuesday.

Senator Rhiannon said electoral laws should be changed to ensure the government must declare whether companies receiving public funds are party donors.

“It puts a spotlight onto why we need to clean up electoral funding.”

The Greens plan to introduce a bill to ban donations from certain industries such as mining, alcohol, gambling and tobacco, but support the idea of a wider ban on corporate donations.

Comment is being sought from the Liberal Party.