NBN tower on Mount Camel axed by Aboriginal quarry

The tribunal found that, while the tower was unlikely to affect Aboriginal artefacts, it could ride roughshod over ‘intangible’ cultural values. Photo: Rob HomerAn attempt by government-owned NBN Co to build a telecommunications tower on rural Victoria’s Mount Camel has been scuppered by “intangible” cultural heritage sensitivities and an Aboriginal axe quarry.
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The NBN Co is charged with rolling out Australia’s largest infrastructure project, a country-wide broadband network that includes building extensive wireless and cable infrastructure.

The decade-long building process, which started in 2009, has hit snags in the past, including asbestos contamination in underground ducts and significant political opposition.

Now, NBN Co has been rebuked for failing to properly consult the Taungurung Aboriginal Clan about an access track and fixed wireless broadband tower it wants to build on Mount Camel’s summit near Bendigo.

The Mount Camel area has registered Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, including axe quarries.

NBN’s plans for a 25-metre-high tower and an equipment shed were scuttled by Victoria’s planning tribunal, which also chastised the company for failing to talk to local Aboriginal groups.

“The tribunal was not assisted by NBN Co’s expert choosing not to contact the Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to inquire about possible intangible values before preparing her witness statement and giving oral evidence,” a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal member said.

The tribunal found that, while the tower was unlikely to affect Aboriginal artefacts, it could ride roughshod over “intangible” cultural values like stories and traditions about the landscape.

The tower would have a large and unacceptable visual impact, which, combined with the possible impact on cultural sensitivities, led the tribunal to reject it.

However, neither NBN nor the tribunal was able to assess what the intangible impact would be because the local Taungurung Clan “declined” to get involved in legal action or attend hearings.

It also failed to participate in a cultural heritage management plan that NBN Co volunteered to put together, the tribunal said.

Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Lawrence Moser said at the time the corporation was under-resourced and unable to respond.

NBN Co could have “gone about it a whole lot better”, Mr Moser said.

“All we wanted . . . was to engage in the process that’s set out under the legislation and to maintain our right to protect our cultural heritage. I think we’ve been treated unfairly.”

Consultation was a “high priority” for NBN Co, which took “great care to minimise the impact of our facilities in these areas”, a spokeswoman said.

“NBN is currently reviewing its options for making a decision on the best way to service the Mount Camel community,” she said.

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End of the line for credit card surcharges

Bit on top: an inquiry is now looking at the practice of adding a surcharge when purchases are made with credit cards. Photo: Michel O’SullivanFor several years now, regulators have tacitly acknowledged that some businesses are gouging customers who pay on credit.
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However, attempts to stamp out the excessive fees for paying on plastic are proving to be frustratingly slow.

Credit card surcharges – the extra fees levied on customers who use credit, instead of some other payment type – have the dubious honour of being the most complained-about issue in the last year’s financial system inquiry.

An online campaign led to more than 5000 submissions being lodged about this issue. But it is not just a populist concern.

The Reserve Bank, which supports the principle of surcharging, has nonetheless argued that a minority of credit card surcharges are really a sneaky way for some businesses to make extra money from their customers.

It wants to stamp out these “excessive” charges, so that businesses can only pass on the true cost of accepting credit card payments.

For consumers, however, progress on this front has been painfully slow.

An RBA discussion paper in mid 2011 raised concerns about excessive surcharging. It found that the practice was most rife in industries where payments are typically made online and there are fewer alternative payment methods – such as when you are booking a holiday.  As the graph shows, this is also the industry where surcharging is most common.

Ultimately, the RBA’s concerns led to rule changes designed to stop merchants using credit card surcharges to gouge their customers.

But it’s been almost two years since those rules came into force, and some of the most unpopular surcharges, such as those used by airlines, remain.

That is because the current system has proven difficult to enforce – as it’s complex and time-consuming to establish the retailer’s exact costs of accepting credit.

Now, the government has been presented with a new proposal on how to deal with excessive surcharging.

The financial system inquiry, chaired by David Murray, argues that what is needed are clear surcharge limits, rather than leaving it open to companies to determine. The proposal is open for consultation now.

Under the model proposed by Murray, some amount of surcharging would continue because it is an important “price signal” to customers.

It tells shoppers that paying on credit is more expensive for the retailer – and gives customers an incentive to use a lower-cost method.

But rather than the current system that is proving tough to enforce, Murray has proposed allowing low-cost cards, such as debit cards, to ban retailers from surcharging altogether.

Medium-cost cards, such as Visa and MasterCard, would be allowed to cap surcharges at a certain level. While the higher-cost cards – American Express and Diners Club – would continue with the current approach, but be forced to better explain to their customers why they might have to pay a surcharge.

Murray reckons this approach would be simpler, would reduce excessive surcharging, and would allow customers to avoid surcharges altogether if they want to. It seems a sensible response to a gripe that refuses to go away.

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System damned by planner’s decades of fraud

More care: Scrutiny needs be be on licensee practises as much as it is on the employees.It seems incredible that a financial adviser could continue to rip off clients for two decades.
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Such was the case with Sydney financial planner Melinda Scott, who was sentenced to a minimum three years and 10 months in jail for defrauding clients, including her friends, of almost $6 million.

Scott owned her own advice business, Roach Graham Scott, but operated under the licences of others, including, most recently, through a licensee owned by ANZ.

It was a Ponzi scheme where the savings from some clients were used to pay-out other clients, while pocketing the money herself.

Fraud can hard to detect. But our regulatory system, which regulates the employers of planners rather than individual planners, does not help.

Under the licensing regime, the employer holding the license has responsibility for all those operating under its licence.

Much has been written, including by myself, on how inadequate background checking by some employers leaves those seeking financial advice exposed. Bad apples have been able to circulate from employer to employer. Scott was banned from providing financial advice much earlier in her career. She was banned as a securities representative in 1996. The banning was for 10 years; a lengthy term which means she must have committed serious wrong-doing.

She was banned at the behest of the Australian Securities Commission; the forerunner of today’s Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The earlier Commission could only ban Scott from giving advice on investments, such as managed funds, as it did not have responsibility for insurance and superannuation. That meant she could continue to give advice on insurance and superannuation, including annuities.

She was able to get away with her crimes for so long, the judge of the trial observed, because her clients rarely checked their superannuation funds.

The judge also said there was a lack of scrutiny by those whose licences she operated under.

You would think that a previous banning order would be a red flag to any potential employer.

ANZ says its hiring processes have since been improved and that Scott would never be hired today.

ANZ has compensated most of the affected clients, with more compensation to follow, regardless of whether the losses occurred during or before Scott was an adviser operating under the license of an ANZ-owned subsidiary.

ASIC has repeatedly warned employers that they need to have “robust recruitment processes”. That is especially the case when checking references and credentials of those who have worked for financial planning firms against whom it has taken action.

The much-anticipated public register of financial advisers will help arm consumers against dodgy advisers.

For the first time, everyone who is giving personal advice will have details about them listed.

A planner’s qualifications and membership of professional associations will be listed. Most importantly, any bans, disqualifications and enforceable undertakings will be listed.

The register will start on March 31; though not all required information will on the register until May 30. ASIC will be able to impose financial penalties and possible jail terms for putting misleading information on the register.

 @jcollett_money

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In The Homesman Tommy Lee Jones shows the wild west from a woman’s perspective

Hilary Swank in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker Tommy Lee Jones in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker
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Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Tommy Lee Jones in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Tommy Lee Jones in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Tommy Lee Jones in The Homesman Photo: Philippa Hawker

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones Photo: Philippa Hawker

Tommy Lee Jones stars in and directs The Homesman.

More on The HomesmanMovie session timesFull movies coverage

At 68, Tommy Lee Jones is famously uninclined to suffer fools gladly. Actually, he doesn’t suffer anybody. At best, he is monosyllabic and dismissive with interviewers; at his worst, which will surface with the force of a geyser if he thinks his private space is being violated, he throws the furniture around.

Given that almost everything is private for him – not just his three marriages, but all opinions – it isn’t easy to navigate a discussion. Meanwhile, that weathered Texan face, pierced by eyes once compared to tiny oil wells, remains impassive. Like a mountain, he is just waiting out the aeons until you go.

The occasion for our meeting at the Cannes Film Festival is his new western The Homesman – his fourth film as a director, if we count two TV movies – in which capable bluestocking Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to take three women who have succumbed to frontier madness to the nearest town with a hospital. On the way she enlists the aid of a feckless roustabout called George Briggs, played by Jones himself; initially at odds, the odd couple reaches some kind of mutual understanding.

The Homesman has been described enthusiastically by some critics as “a feminist western” but, predictably, Jones rejects the label.

“There was some originality to this story,” he says. “That’s what I was looking for. That’s what one always looks for. I haven’t seen a lot of movies about the difficulties of life in the mid-19th century in the western territories for women.”

Hard as that life was, of course, it was part of the dispossession of the people who were already there. Jones gave public support to his old college room-mate Al Gore in his bid for the presidency, but he generally keeps a lid on his political opinions. How does that history underpin this film? “Just look at it,” he says stolidly. “It’s obvious, isn’t it?”

When feminism arises, I suggest that Briggs is as lonely as Miss Cuddy in his own way. “I’m not a psychoanalyst and have no interest in it,” says Jones. “He doesn’t look to me like a character who concerns himself with loneliness.”

How did he work with Swank on her character? “Well, she can read. The screenplay’s pretty good. She got the rhythm, did the thinking and came to an understanding of how one speech led to the next. That’s about all.”

Jones has trodden this pioneer territory before; his critically lauded film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada  also took a critical look at the western myth, on that occasion through the prism of border control and illegal immigration. As an actor, he won an Oscar in 1993 for pursuing Harrison Ford in The Fugitive. He also played the sheriff in No Country for Old Men, adapted from the book by his friend and fellow Texan Cormac McCarthy. He was nominated for an Oscar for his rich portrayal of abolitionist congressman Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which is hardly a western but covers some of the same territory, quite literally.

So, what is it that he likes about westerns? “I don’t know. It’s an empty term, almost to the point of being meaningless. The only definition I can imagine from reading how people use that term is that it’s meant to define a movie that takes place west of the Mississippi in the 19th century and has big hats and horses.”

It’s true that the film eludes the romance of that idea, given that it centres on madness. “Oh, we didn’t set out to defy any particular cinematic romance. We just simply ignored it.”

He did research treatments for psychiatric patients, he reveals, which were startlingly primitive. “For example, the treatment for schizophrenia was to soak the patient in ice water for five hours and then put them in a bed that was made with sheets soaked in ice water, then get them up and walk them round barefoot in the snow. The theory was that the best cure for schizophrenia was acute hypothermia. Extraordinary as we see it, but common in the day.”

The moment comes to leave. Aeons have definitely passed; the craggy face of Tommy Lee Jones, I swear, has been marginally eroded by the passage of our time. He unbends to the point of promising me I will enjoy this movie more next time; he is frankly and engagingly proud of what he does.

When the publicist appears, she looks pale. Clearly, she has been listening at the door. “I owe you a drink,” she says, sounding as if she’s in her own feminist western. Unfortunately, Cannes is hellish short of sawdust saloons.

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Mike Baird promises $300 million to untangle Sydney’s roads

Premier Mike Baird Photo: Janie Barrett ‘Congestion will cripple us’: Mike Baird. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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Baird labelled a ‘coward’ over electricity privatisation

Roads would be widened and routes leading to busy intersections would take half as long to travel through under a $300 million election promise by the Baird government to untangle Sydney’s worst traffic snarls.

The improvements would take place over the next decade and would be funded by the proceeds of the government’s proposed partial lease of the electricity distribution network, or the “poles and wires”.

The investment was mooted last November when the government released more detail on how the electricity proceeds would be spent.

Labor has accused the government of “blackmail” by making the road improvements contingent on privatisation. The party is expected to reveal on Thursday how it would fund infrastructure, if elected.

Premier Mike Baird made the announcement on Wednesday near Homebush Bay Drive at Homebush, the seat where Strathfield Liberal MP Charles Casuscelli is facing an aggressive challenge by Labor candidate and former frontbencher MP Jodi McKay.

Mr Baird said if the government was re-elected, it would target so-called “pinch points” on 32 notoriously congested roads. They include Pennant Hills Road, Cumberland Highway, Parramatta Road, Old Windsor Road, The Kingsway, Campbelltown Road, and the Pacific Highway from North Sydney to Pymble.

“Sydney’s busiest roads can be gridlocked at any time of the day, any day of the week, costing our economy billions every year,” he said.

“If we don’t continue to act congestion will cripple our city.”

Mr Baird said the previous Labor government promised to deliver infrastructure but “never had funding to go alongside it. Well, we have that. We’ve got a bold vision to make a difference to this great city and state.”

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A spokesman for Mr Baird said no homes would be acquired for the planned work.

Mr Baird said communities and councils would be consulted and where the changes were “supported and make sense, and we can do it, we will”.

Mr Baird flagged the relocation of on-street parking in some cases, if businesses agreed to the move.

Labor’s deputy leader Linda Burney said the move was part of Mr Baird’s “privatisation circus”.

“People do not like to be blackmailed. People do not like an axe hanging over their head where the only way they can get a new service or new infrastructure is to allow Mike Baird to privatise electricity,” she said.

Asked how Labor planned to pay for critical infrastructure, Ms Burney said a policy would be announced before the election. It later emerged that Labor leader Luke Foley is due to reveal this policy on Thursday morning.

“What we will be proposing will not depend on selling electricity assets. It will not depend on people having to give up what is theirs,” Ms Burney said.

Last week, former Labor premier Morris Iemma said governments should not shy away from unpopular decisions to privatise public assets, in a message that implied support for the government’s main re-election pitch.

Infrastructure NSW and Transport for NSW identified the road corridors to be improved.

The upgrades would be funded from the Rebuilding NSW fund, which the government says would pay for $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects once the electricity lease is complete.

The work would begin next financial year, and would include intersection improvements, road widening and lengthening or widening turn bays.

The government said it would lead to increases in average travel speeds by up to 15km/h on links approaching upgraded intersections.

This would achieve up to 50 per cent travel time savings on these approaches during peak periods and benefit adjacent intersections, it said.

Speaking about the Strathfield contest, Mr Baird predicted that Mr Casuscelli would hold the seat, saying he was “making a huge difference to his local community. He lives and breathes it”.

Mr Casuscelli said the road program was “great news for the people of Strathfield”.

“Behind us is one of the worst pinch points, not only in my electorate, but this part of Sydney,” he said.

“People go through that intersection … for all sorts of reasons, whether they are shoppers at the DFO [shopping centre] or they are taking their kids to recreational facilities.

“The pinch point program … will treat intersections like this one and allow people to get where they need to go sooner, and in a lot better frame of mind.”

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Former IT manager tells ICAC he is ‘ashamed’ of defrauding NSW universities

Fraud allegations: Brett Roberts leaves the ICAC after giving evidence. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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Fraud allegations: Brett Roberts leaves the ICAC after giving evidence. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Fraud allegations: Brett Roberts leaves the ICAC after giving evidence. Photo: Daniel Munoz

“This was a rob and a con of Sydney University, wasn’t it?” counsel assisting a corruption inquiry asked.

“Yes,” came the blunt reply from the 47-year-old former IT manager in the witness box.

Brett Roberts told the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Wednesday he had a “lot of debt” when he decided to defraud his employer of tens of thousands of dollars in late 2009.

The commission heard that Mr Roberts issued fake invoices to the University of Sydney, which directed that payment be made to a bank account for his $2 company, Robcon Australia Pty Limited.

“You understand what a con is? You understand what a rob is?” said counsel assisting the inquiry Anthony McGrath, SC.

“Yes,” Mr Roberts replied.

Asked if the company name was chosen “because that’s what you had in mind for that company”, Mr Roberts said: “Absolutely not.”

The Newcastle man admitted he had been “shitting blue lights” at the prospect of being caught but it was not the first time he had used the scam.

He had previously defrauded the University of Newcastle using a similar scheme, and after his stint at the University of Sydney he went on to do the same at Macquarie University. The universities were defrauded of almost $114,000 between 2005 and 2013.

In front of barristers for the universities, Mr Roberts apologised and said he was “ashamed” of himself.

“I know it probably doesn’t mean much, coming from me here, but I want to do what I can to fix this up,” he said.

The inquiry heard that Mr Roberts had hatched a plan in 2006 to use a friend’s company to issue fake invoices to the University of Newcastle.

He claimed he had come up with the idea to help his friend who was “out of work”, and they agreed to split the proceeds. His friend denied the claim.

Mr Roberts admitted he used the same system when he moved on to the University of Sydney but said his friend was not involved. The invoices directed the money be paid to the Robcon bank account.

He made $43,065 from the University of Sydney, on top of the “good money” he admitted the university was already paying him.

Mr Roberts denied he had a gambling problem and claimed he was spending the money on living expenses, including water and electricity bills.

“You seem to be going through an extraordinary amount of water and electricity,” Mr McGrath said.

Mr Roberts said his electricity bill could be as much as $4000 a quarter.

The inquiry has heard allegations that Mr Roberts used the same scam at Macquarie University, where he started working in July 2012 and was earning $180,000 a year.

Commissioner Megan Latham asked incredulously if all the money he received was spent on household expenses.

“As I recall, yes,” Mr Roberts replied.

Mr Roberts was sacked in December 2013 following a misconduct investigation, and went on to work briefly for the NSW Department of Trade and Investment.

He is now working part-time at the former NSW government-owned electricity company Macquarie Generation, which was privatised last year.

The ICAC will release its findings later in the year.

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Finding a Greece solution

Greece’s sovereign and multilateral creditors should cut the interest rate they are charging as part of any reworked bailout plan, according to one of the lead negotiators of the 2011 and 2012 debt restructuring with private sector creditors.
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Charles Dallara, who as managing director of the Institute of International Finance represented banks, hedge funds, insurers and asset managers holding about €200 billion in Greek bonds, said both the International Monetary Fund and European Union governments could offer concessional rates of around 2 per cent to give the country more breathing space.

This compares to around 3.5 or 4 per cent currently being charged.

“The IMF has this rather anachronistic policy that says that if you’re a low-income country, they’ll give you concessional levels,” he said.

“But if you’re a high income country, regardless of the depth of your problems, they will charge you near-market rates.

“I think the IMF needs to revisit its interest rates policy and create some eligibility for countries like Greece for the concessional lending pools,” Mr Dallara said.

Speaking in Sydney during an investment seminar this week, Mr Dallara said he was confident Greece and the EU would reach a compromise deal on the terms and conditions of the some €170 billion extended to the country in recent years to shore up its banking system and allow the government to function.

In return, Greece has agreed to a range of austerity measures aimed at keeping the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product at 120 per cent.

However, popular unrest over the repercussions of fiscal tightening led to the election in January this year of the anti-austerity Syriza party, and the appointment of academic Yanis Varoufakis, a former Sydney University lecturer, as finance minister.

Mr Varoufakis is leading current negotiations with creditors over a restructured deal, including an extension on some of the repayments due this year and lighter austerity conditions.

Despite current posturing and disagreement between the two sides, observers expect them to strike a deal.

“The Greeks don’t have to make such a huge issue out of extending the current program, because they can say to the people that a technical extension is not affirmation of the content of the program, it’s actually quite the reverse; it’s an opportunity to revisit the content of the program,” said Mr Dallara.

“The Europeans, when they get off their high horse saying ‘a deal is a deal and an agreement is an agreement’, will also recognise that the program needs some reworking.

“Once you get past this issue of extending the current program or not, then the actual adjustments to the program should not be insurmountable,” he said.

“I think that the Europeans recognise that the Greeks want a little bit more flexibility on the fiscal front.”

He said concessional interest rates on the current debt load would also go a long way to helping Greece through the crisis.

“If the IMF is smart enough to roll over its loans it should cut its interest rates as well,” he said.

“And if the Europeans are smart enough and they too extend the maturities and cut the interest rates further this can save the Greeks some serious cashflow, a few billion a year.

“The consolidation of Greece’s fiscal position has come at a high price to the Greek economy – but it has allowed Greece now to speak with more credibility about their fiscal policies, and I think that they do deserve some breathing room here,” he said.

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Rail document found in Owen office: Labor

ROLES: Tim Crakanthorp, left, found the document, and Jeff McCloy, right, says he did not have ‘‘much influence’’. ●Read the cabinet papers here
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A CABINET document that shows the government rejected advice from Transport for NSW about the best light rail route in Newcastle was found in former Liberal MP Tim Owen’s office, it has been revealed.

It raises questions about how the city’s former backbencher came into possession of the confidential information – and why Labor did not tell the public sooner of the discovery made after it won the city’s byelection.

Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp, who inherited Mr Owen’s Hunter Street office, said on Tuesday that he had found the copy of the cabinet minute ‘‘late last year in the back of a filing cabinet’’ after he had given evidence to a November hearing for a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s planning decisions.

He referred it to the office of the opposition leader.

During a visit to the region on Tuesday, Premier Mike Baird was forced to defend the selected light rail route as one chosen with the city’s revitalisation needs in mind, and labelled as ‘‘conspiracies’’ claims the route was selected to favour the interests of developers.

Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday that Transport for NSW advised the cabinet infrastructure committee in December 2013 that its preferred light rail route was along the corridor for the heavy rail line that was to be ripped up as part of a Newcastle revitalisation plan.

But in May 2014, following consultation with government property developer UrbanGrowth NSW, the state announced the new line would use only part of the corridor in the West End before diverting along Hunter Street.

This is despite Transport for NSW’s advice to cabinet that running light rail down Hunter Street, as advocated by local developers, would mean a slower service, disruption of traffic and higher construction and heavy rail corridor remediation costs.

The cost of the Hunter Street route may also be as much as $94 million more than Transport for NSW’s preferred option, the documents suggest.

It emerged on Tuesday that the confidential cabinet documents were found in Mr Owen’s electorate office by Labor after it won the October 25 byelection sparked by Mr Owen’s resignation from Parliament.

He quit in August after lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about taking $10,000 cash before the 2011 election from developer and former lord mayor Jeff McCloy.

Mr McCloy is overseas but told the Newcastle Herald the light rail option chosen by the statewas not his preference.

‘‘I have always been of the opinion that the light rail should have gone all the way down Hunter Street [from Wickham],’’ Mr McCloy said.

‘‘It seemed commonsense to me to put it where the shops are and where people actually want to go.

‘‘Obviously, I didn’t have much influence because the government went ahead with a different solution. They’re the facts of it.’’

Labor’s transport spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe, said there were ‘‘serious questions why a backbencher, Tim Owen, had access to these cabinet documents’’.

‘‘Who else had access to these documents and was there collusion with developers to ensure that the transport advice was ignored?’’ she asked.

The document has now been referred to the parliamentary inquiry.

Inquiry deputy chairman David Shoebridge said how Mr Owen came to have the material and whether he had any influence in the final decision about the light rail route ‘‘are questions that immediately arise’’.

But he also said it was ‘‘hard to understand’’ why Labor had not handed over the ‘‘critical’’ document earlier, labelling the apparent delay a ‘‘failure of government and a failure of opposition’’.

‘‘This demolishes the argument for terminating the rail line on Boxing Day,’’ Mr Shoebridge said.

‘‘Why on earth would anyone sit on it for months?’’

Mr Crakanthorp said he had campaigned on the issue before becoming an MP and then in Parliament.

‘‘Ultimately, the only way to stop the ripping up of the rail line is to vote the Liberals out in March, which is why we have made this information public,’’ he said.

Christian Democratic Party MP the Reverend Fred Nile, chair of the upper house inquiry into the Newcastle planning process, said he was ‘‘pretty angry’’ and questioned the government’s plans for the corridor.

‘‘There could be high-rise towers put on it as it’s the only land not affected by mining subsidence,’’ he said.

John Robertson quit as Labor leader days before Christmas.

Mr Robertson’s replacement, Luke Foley, was elected in January.

Cost of metadata laws will be $400 million, cost of inaction incalculable: Tony Abbott

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott says metadata needs to be kept to catch criminals. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant

The cost of keeping metadata for telcos and their customers will be as much as $400 million but Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the price of not storing electronic communication records is “incalculable” because it would lead to an “explosion in unsolved crime.”

Mr Abbott on Wednesday broadened the case for storing metadata as proposed in the third phase of new counter-terror laws by linking it to policing of paedophilia and white collar crimes.

He visited the headquarters of child safety group Bravehearts on the Gold Coast in Queensland with Liberal MP Dan Tehan, who is the chair of the Parliament’s independent and bipartisan intelligence committee, which is scrutinising the legislation.

Mr Abbott said the new laws that would force telcos to keep communications records for two years will help authorities deal with a “whole range of criminal conduct”.

“Metadata and its retention is more important than ever if we are going to be able to track what criminals are doing, whether it be criminals who want to commit terrorist offences, whether it be criminals who are committing corporate offences, whether it be people who are committing child abuse offences, so much of this kind of activity is being conducted online,” he said.

“We all know that people who want to abuse children often feed their habits online.”

Mr Abbott said the cost would equate to 1 per cent of the $40 billion communications sector, or $400 million, but said the price of not acting would be “incalculable”.

“The cost of losing this data is an explosion of unsolved crime, that’s the price of losing this data,” he said, adding it was a small price to pay for the “freedoms” and “safety” Australians deserve.

“And if we don’t get it, it will be a form of unilateral disarmament in the face of criminals… [Without it] our crime fighting agencies and our police are flying blind,” he reiterated.

Tony Abbott’s office says the $400 million price tag is a one-off implementation cost.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said the government would contribute but has not specified how much the sector might be asked to pay. But he Prime Minister appeared to suggest it would be up to the sector to shoulder the costs.

“It’s very important that if you do business in this country you adhere to the rules, and the rules of being a telecommunications provider in this country should include keeping your metadata…for two years,” he said.

Parliament’s intelligence committee will publish its report on the metadata bill next Friday. The government is urging Labor to help it swiftly pass the legislation once the review is handed down. The opposition’s communications spokesman Jason Clare sits on the joint standing committee. He told Sky the evidence presented to MPs “is starting to show…a number of concerns with the legislation that will need to be addressed”.

He listed press freedom, data storage costs and what constitutes metadata as areas of concern.

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm is opposed to the new legislation and his vote will not have any impact on the legislation’s passage if Labor supports the government.

Senator Leyonhjelm said the Prime Minister’s arguments for new spying powers exposed the estimated costs as just one of many reasons why the legislation is a “crock”.

He also warned that telco companies would be likely to store the data on overseas servers where it could be vulnerable to hacking and misuse.Follow us on Twitter

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Pirates of the Caribbean 5: extras, crew tell no tales of filming Johnny Depp movie on Gold Coast

Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp in a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End. Photo: Supplied Johnny Depp is reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow for the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Photo: Supplied
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It’s called Dead Men Tell No Tales but in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean 5, no live ones do either.

Local actors and crew members are on strict non-disclosure agreements, forbidding them to discuss their experiences on set, particularly on social media.

Phones are also banned from the Village Roadshow studios at Helensvale on the Gold Coast, where filming began this week.

Tight security for film production is nothing new, but the presence of star Johnny Depp, aka Captain Jack Sparrow, has prompted widespread interest in Pirates 5.

He’ll be joined on set by Javier Bardem, who will play the villain Captain Salazar.

Bardem is well known for his malevolent onscreen characters, including assassin Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men and Raoul Silva in the James Bond film Skyfall.

Geoffrey Rush is the most high profile Australian cast member, reprising his role of Captain Barbossa.

However Cairns-born actor Brenton Thwaites has also been cast, playing Henry, a British soldier.

The 25-year-old studied at QUT Kelvin Grove and starred in the Brisbane-based drama SLiDE before a stint on Home and Away.

He moved to the US in 2012 to further his career, landing roles in Oculus and Maleficent.

An official statement from Walt Disney Studios has outlined details of the plot.

“A down-on-his-luck Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him,” it says.

“Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.”

It’s understood official casting for extras began in October, with male actor picked instructed not to shave or cut their hair until they were confirmed as in or out in early January.

A source told Fairfax Media extras were sorted into three categories: pirates, villagers or British soldiers.

Those chosen to play soldiers were put through a bootcamp, learning how to march, hold guns and fire replica muskets.

There were concerns wild weather predicted to hit south east Queensland between Thursday and Sunday would halt work on the film.

However, a spokesperson for Pirates of the Caribbean 5 said while they hoped the weather wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, contingencies were in place and filming would continue.

Pirates 5 was lured to film on the Gold Coast last year after intense negotiations with Screen Australia and Screen Queensland.

The federal government offered a $21.6 million funding package and the then-LNP state government slashed payroll tax to fend off a competing bid by Mexico and interest from other Australian states.

Pirates 5 is set to be the biggest movie ever filmed in Australia in terms of budget and size.

* If you have information about the Pirates of the Caribbean 5 filmingor you have spotted one of the stars, email [email protected]南京夜网.au, sent a text to 0414 284 637, contact us via Facebook, or mention @brisbanetimes on Twitter.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Surfest: Philippa Anderson into fourth round

Surfest: Philippa Anderson into fourth round DAY 3: Maud Le Car waxes up for heat 9. Picture: Darren Pateman
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Maud Le Car paddles out for Heat 9.17th February 2015 pic Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Warming up. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson gets ready for heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Jess Grimwood gets ready for heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: All the action from heat 6. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Georgia Fish. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Georgia Fish. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson on her way to win Heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson after winning Heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan on her way to winning heat 8. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jake Sylvester. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jake Sylvester. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Brazilian surfer Michael Rodrigues. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Brazilian surfer Michael Rodrigues. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 3: Laura Poncini. Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookMEREWETHER’S Philippa Anderson kept her cool to progress to the fourth round and French top seed Maud Le Car again dominated her rivals in the Surfest Women’s Classic on Wednesday.

Anderson recovered from last spot at the halfway point of her four-woman, round three heat to post scores of 8.00 and 7.57 to win with a total of 15.57.

Avoca 14-year-old Macy Callaghan earned 6.47 and 5.83 early to lead with 12.30, which was enough to defeat Laura Poncini (11.77) for the other place in round four from heat four.

Le Car racked up the highest total of round two with an 18.6 in the morning and was again the best in the afternoon with 18.70 in round three.

Le Car is the top seed after the late withdrawal of West Australian Bronte Macaulay.

Coolum’s Isabella Nichols was the other standout of round three, scoring 9.70 and 8.60 to win her heat with 18.30

Merewether’s Philippa Anderson stamped her class on the Surfest Women’s Classic with an opening-heat blitz at Dixon Park Beach on Wednesday.

The 2009 Surfest champion put together scores of 8.83 and 8.50 to easily win her round two heat with 17.33.

Central Coast’s Jess Grimwood, who won the Australian amateur title last year, survived a late scare from Portuguese Carol Henrique to take second place and progress 12.77 to 12.03.

Palm Beach’s Kiani Dobbyn was also close, scoring 11.76.

Anderson, 23, was pleased with the start in the one-star world qualification series contest.

‘‘It felt really good,’’ Anderson said.

‘‘Two eights, and it’s always really good to start off an event with scores like that.

‘‘It gives you confidence that the judges like your what you were doing out there.’’

Anderson capitalised on local knowledge and a morning of study at the site.

‘‘I was watching all morning and it was a choice of two breaks,’’ she said.

‘‘I surf here a lot and I chose the right break and it paid off, so that was lucky.’’

Frenchwoman and topseed Maud Le Car was the standout performer of the morning, scoring 9.43 and 9.17 for a 18.60 total. Palm Beach’s Ellie Brooks (12.63) also secured a round three berth from the heat.

Pro Junior champion Macy Callaghan, from Avoca, won her heat with a 12.50-point total.

Round three of the women’s contest will also be held to fill the rest of the Wednesday schedule.

Anderson is due to surf again at 3.20pm and will face Callaghan, Brazilian Karol Ribeiro and Sunshine Coast’s Laura Poncini.

Kirkconnell Correctional Centre to reopen near Bathurst

REOPENING FOR BUSINESS: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole with Bathurst Correctional Centre security manager Brad Peebles and general manager Bill Fittler at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre yesterday. Photo: BRIAN WOOD 021715jail1KIRKCONNELL Correctional Centre will reopen within months, less than four years after it was controversially shut by the NSW Government.
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Member for Bathurst Paul Toole yesterday confirmed the Government would spend $4 million upgrading the centre before it is reopened to house up to 260 minimum security inmates in 13 accommodation units.

The jail’s closure in 2011 cost 20 corrections staff their jobs and sparked loud protests across the Bathurst and Lithgow regions.

But Mr Toole would not be drawn yesterday on whether the decision to shut Kirkconnell was a mistake.

“Prisoner numbers were lower in 2011,” he said.

He said at the time the Government gave an assurance that Kirkconnell would be reopened if the prison population was to increase, and it had honoured that promise.

The correctional centre and grounds have been maintained since the closure.

“I’m pleased to see mylobbying of government ministers about getting Kirkconnell reopened has paid off,” Mr Toole said.

He said when Kirkconnell closed, 12 staff took up voluntary redundancies and 40 accepted positions at other jails, including Bathurst, Lithgow and Oberon.

Now 60 corrections jobs ranging from manager to administrative personnel will be available prior to the jail becoming fully operational by the end of June.

Mr Toole said it would be up to management to determine if this will include former staff of the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre.

Bathurst Correctional Centre general manager Bill Fittler, who will oversee operations at Kirkconnell, said he expected there to be a lot of interest in working at the jail.

“We will certainly have a big pool of people to draw from. It’s a great place to work,” he said.

“I think this is fantastic news.

“There is a real need for these additional beds as the number of inmates increases across NSW.”

Mr Fittler said upgrading work at Kirkconnell would be carried out by a combination of contractors and inmates.

He said up to 60 inmates would be relocated to the correctional centre over the next two weeks for this purpose.

Mr Fittler said there would be a strong focus on education and vocational training at Kirkconnell.

In addition, inmates will be exploring industry involvement, most likely the forestry industry.

“We will also return to doing community work with the people in Yetholme,” he said.

Attorney General Brad Hazzard said recent legislative changes and active policing had resulted in an increase in the prison population.

It meant the NSW Government had to take additional measures to house inmates.

He said the reopening of Kirkconnell Correctional Centre followed staged expansions at centres including Long Bay and Lithgow, where 635 beds were added over the past year.

WA hit with first Hepatitis A case linked to frozen berries

WA Health has reported the first case of Hepatitis A linked to frozen berries in our state. WESTERN Australia has reported its first case of Hepatitis A linked to the recently recalled Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet brands of frozen mixed berries.
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Communicable disease control director Dr Paul Armstrong said this latest case adds to at least 12 other confirmed cases across Australia.

He urged Western Australians to not consume the following implicated berry products:

Nanna’s Mixed Berries, frozen in1 kilogram plastic bags, with best before dates up to and including 22/11/2016

Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries in 300 gram (best before 10/12/2017) or 500 gram (best before 6/10/2017) packs

Nanna’s Raspberries (frozen) in1 kilogram plastic bags, with best before dates up to and including 15/09/2016.

Consumers should return any packs of these products, which were widely available from supermarkets in WA, to the place of purchase for a full refund, or discard them.

“There is no need for people who have eaten these products and remain well to see their doctor for testing or vaccination, as the risk to any individual should be very low,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can be passed from person-to-person, or come from food or water contaminated with the virus.

“Symptoms of hepatitis A can start2 to7 weeks after exposure to an infectious person or after eating contaminated food.”

Early symptoms are fever, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort.

After several days jaundice can develop, with yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin, dark urine and pale stools, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.

Dr Armstrong said it was important for anyone who does experience the above symptoms to see their doctor for testing, especially if they have eaten the above berry products in the pasttwo months.

“People who are unwell should also take steps to avoid spreading the infection by careful hand washing and not handling food or providing personal care to others until they have received advice from their doctor,” Dr Armstrong said.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A and people sometimes require hospitalisation for supportive care. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination.

Most cases of hepatitis A in WA occur in people who return from travel in developing countries, where transmission is associated with inadequate sanitation and poor standards of personal and food hygiene.