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Labor slams state government over $75m consultants bill for Newcastle Port privatisation

How $75 million in public money was spent on the Newcastle Port privatisation TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldobtained a copy of a “port commitment” deed marked “strictly confidential”.

Read more:Government admits secret Newcastle charge

Consultants took home $24,796,419 for the 2014 privatisation of Newcastle, a year after picking up$49,499,477 worth of work when Botany was privatised with Port Kembla.

HERE’S THE BILL: Consultants were paid more than $24m on the privatisation of Port of Newcastle and more than $49 million when Botany and Port Kembla were privatised together. Source: NSW Treasury.

As well as the Morgans, PWC and Minters jobs, environmental Resources Managementreceived $2.9 million for environmental engineering advice on Botany/Kembla and $2.4 million for Newcastle. For technical engineering advice, GHD was paid $2.4 million for Botany/Kembla and $1.3 million for Newcastle.

Real estate agents Colliers were paid just over $1 million for property expertise on both deals.RSM Bird Cameron received just over $560,000 for probity advice on both.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the government used its consultants to come up with a scheme that makes the port compensate its competitor if Newcastlehandledmore than 30,000 containers ayear.

Then Competition and Consumer Commission has beguninvestigating bothprivatisations for possible breaches ofthe Competition and Consumer Act for“substantially lessening market competition”.

Mr Crakanthorp said he met on Thursday with ACCC chairman Rod Sims as part of his effort to “prosecute the case against the State Government’s dodgy deal putting the handbrake on Newcastle and the Hunter’s future economic well-being”.

Read more:ACCC looking at Newcastle fee

“The penalty is specifically designed to stifle the growth of Newcastle Port, suppressing desperately-needed jobs in the Hunter region, and damaging local industry through higher transportation costs,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“I have been raising this issue since 2015 and asked over 80 questions of the Minister in Parliament; this deal has been dodgy from the start. This is $75 million that could have been in invested in our local schools and hospitals. This ‘port rort’ has robbed Newcastle of jobs, investment and productivity. As further details are revealed we can truly see how much of a dodgy deal this really was.”

Canberra consultant Greg Cameron, who is pushing for the Newcastle container terminal, said “theNSW government spent money on lawyers to conceal its actions overthe Port of Newcastle from the parliament and the public”.

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said the fees were “an appalling use of public money”.

“Every step of the way, Premier Berejiklian has fought to keep the details of this dodgy deal a secret from the public. Now we find out they spent an eye-watering amount of money to apply the handbrake on the Hunter’s economy.

Read more:Why Sydney is looking again at Newcastle container terminal

A spokesperson for Treasurer Dominic Perrottet justified the spending, saying thegovernment raised$5.1 billion for Botany and Kembla and $1.75 billion for Newcastle, with the money contributing to major infrastructure projects.

The government has previously saidits reform program often“requires external expertise held outside the bureaucracy” and that this advice helps“achieve the best possible outcomes fortaxpayers”.

Finance sector moves to rebuild trust

Tarred by the banking royal commission, the n financial sector is looking for a renewal of trust.

Financial Services Institute of Australasia chief executive Chris Whitehead launched a number of reforms in Canberra on Thursday.

“The royal commission early this year has revealed the urgent need to raise professionalism and standards across the n banking industry, the bedrock solution to the industry’s structural weaknesses,” Mr Whitehead said.

“As an organisation, we felt the industry needed to focus on lifting levels of competency and conduct and improved culture in banking.”

As the launch took place at Parliament House, the Federal Court in Melbourne found Westpac had engaged in “unconscionable” conduct.

Mr Whitehead announced industry-wide standards to restore trust in financial services – known as the Professional Banking Standards.

has no defined industry-wide requirements for professional qualifications in banking.

“That’s a vital complement to proper regulation of the industry,” Mr Whitehead said.

“There’s a world of difference between compliance with the law and aspiration and ethics that guide you when the rules aren’t clear.”

His organisation would also push for a “professional banking council” to set standards of competence and conduct for the banking industry.

The announcement was made as Treasurer Scott Morrison introduced legislation into the lower house to ensure accountability in the financial sector.

The changes would create a second deputy chair position within the n Prudential Regulation Authority.

“This helps to maximise the skills and capabilities available to APRA within its leadership,” Mr Morrison said.

“This reform supports the government’s actions to increase accountability and competition in the financial sector.”

The royal commission has previously heard evidence of bank advisers charging dead clients for financial service, fees for no service and dodgy advice from financial planners, with n Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin saying his agency will investigate any criminal referrals.

Robbie Deans to lead Knights against Force

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will get his first taste of World Series Rugby when he leads the Panasonic Wild Knights into battle against the Western Force on August 17.

Deans, who has been coaching the Japanese side since 2014, is set to bring a strong squad to Perth for the match at nib Stadium.

The match, which was announced on Thursday, will be the seventh of World Series Rugby.

The Force have already recorded wins over the Fiji Warriors and a Tongan representative side.

They will face the Rebels, Crusaders, Samoa and Hong Kong in the coming months before taking on the Wild Knights.

Force chief executive Nick Marvin said the participation of the Wild Knights in WSR was a taste of things to come.

Next year, WSR will be expanded into a six or eight-club competition featuring teams from the Asia Pacific region and Asia.

Marvin said it was highly likely a Japanese team would be part of the competition.

“For us, our future is the Asia Pacific,” Marvin said.

“To have Japan come over (is starting) what we think will be a long and fruitful relationship.”

The Wild Knights are one of Japan’s most powerful and richest teams.

They lost last season’s Top League championship decider 12-8 to the Suntory Sungoliath.

Big crowds have turned up for the first two games of WSR and the Force are hopeful the trend will continue.

And players from around the world are starting to take notice, with n stars such at Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Lachie Turner reportedly in the club’s sights.

Marvin said Matt Hodgson, the Force’s head of elite performance, had been fielding numerous calls from players interested in joining WSR in time for next year.

Rodney Iona’s move to the Force has already paid dividends, with the centre winning a call-up to the Samoan national squad for next month’s Pacific Nations Cup and World Cup qualifier.

“It’s great for Rodney to be rewarded for his good form,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.

“And that’s what we’re all about – promoting our players to kick on to that next level when it’s warranted.”

The Force will be back in action on Saturday, June 9, when they take on the Melbourne Rebels at nib Stadium.

Sutton declares he wants to play on

South Sydney skipper John Sutton says he intends to stay with the NRL club next year.South Sydney skipper John Sutton has declared he wants to play on in 2019 after being given a new lease on life under Anthony Seibold.

Sutton, 33, is off-contract at the end of this year and facing the prospect of calling time on his decorated 15-year-career.

Over the next few months, the Rabbitohs and Sutton are facing a momentous decision.

He must be able to prove to Seibold and club management that he’s up to one final season.

Sutton, who grew up in Maroubra in the heart of Rabbitohs territory, finds it difficult to fathom playing in any colours other than the red and green.

Asked if he could play for a rival club, Sutton stops for a moment with the question obviously weighing heavily on him: “I don’t know.

“I’m just enjoying playing week by week. It’s very enjoyable at the moment.”

For the Rabbitohs faithful, many of those inside the club and the man himself, it would be nigh on unthinkable to see him lining up against South Sydney.

After leading Souths to their drought-breaking 2014 premiership, he has ensured he will always occupy a special place in the club’s history books.

He holds the foundation club’s all-time most games record with 293. Barring injury he will soon become the first person to play 300 games for the Rabbitohs.

At a point when many believed he was entering the twilight of his playing career, he has managed to find some of his best ever football under rookie coach Seibold.

Sutton has been one of the Rabbitohs’ best this year and a driving force behind their ascension to fourth on the ladder heading into Saturday’s clash with the Warriors.

“I’m just enjoying my football,” Sutton said.

“I don’t know how long I have left in the game. At the moment I’m just taking it week by week and I feel like it’s working for me.

“I’ve had a bit of a think about it and I do (want to play on). All I can do is make sure I keep playing good football.”

Teammate Cody Walker said he couldn’t imagine Sutton playing for another club.

“I probably can’t see it happening, but I can’t see the future,” Walker said.

“He’s played the most games for this club, the club’s been around since 1908, it’s a massive achievement and it goes to show the type of player he is. He’s still playing some really good footy.”

Future looking bream

FISH OF THE WEEK: Henry Draganic wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for the 40cm bream caught in Newcastle Harbour this week on ZMan GrubZ.

It’s looking like another cracker weekend for fishing with mostly sunny skies, little chance of rain, and not much wind around.

If seas abate, Brent “Hammer” Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens, recommends hitting the beaches or getting offshore and chase snapper and bream.

“There’s been some great bream coming off the beach this week,” he said.

“Fingal, Samurai and One Mile have all been fishing well for bream.”

Hammer suggests usinga strip of mullet fillet on a smaller type gang hook.

“I call it ‘the each way bet’ –good for bream and sometimes you get decent size tailor,” he said.

Hammer reports there have been some cracking snapper about.

“Pacific Blue Charters got one midweek a bit over 9kg which is a great fish,” he said.

“It’s that time of year when you see them on the inshore reefs. The water drops in temp and theycome in.”

Inside the bay has been good for bream too, as have Newcastle Harbour (see Fish of the Week) and Lake Macquarie.

“Places like the shortcut wall over at Tea Gardens is always a good spot to fish for bream this time of year,” Hammer said.

“We’re also seeing luderick coming on strong.”

“Anglers have been picking them up in numbers from Port Stephens down to Swansea.

“Cabbage has been a bit hard to get but we’ve plenty of the artificial weed flies in stock.”

Pelagic action in the bay has been sensational with mac tuna, long-tail and frigate about in numbers mixing in with salmon and tailor.

“They’re all eating small white bait, and if you want to chase them I suggest you match the hatch with a small metal lure called the Arma Anchovie –a great little metal between 5g and 11g which really matches up to what the fish are feeding on,” he said. “To find the fish, just follow the birds.”

Port Stephens will feature on iFish this Sunday afternoon at 5.30pm, showcasing a bit of black marlin action shot earlier this year.

Title assaultLeigh Stephenson took out the Newcastle District Anglers Association saltwater boat comp held last weekend.

It was Leigh’s second event victory in the NDAA season calendar following on from his victory in the freshwater comp and places his right in the running to take out the season crown.

It was a close-run thing in the saltwater event, with only a small spread of points separating the top five finishers.

Veteran Bob Hodges was runner-up with 269 points, eight behind winner Leigh (277).

“Leigh fished around Moon Island in the afternoon and then into the channel after dark and boated mainly tailor, trevally, bream, flathead and some salmon,” NDAA spokesperson Craig Oaten said.

Craig finished in third place on 264 points, four ahead of Jason Downie (260).

Ladies champion was Mel Warsfield. Bob also claimed the veterans crown while sub-junior champ was Kane Small.

“Although cold, conditions were absolutely pristine,” Craig said.

“What I found was that as soon as the moon went down the fishing shut down too, until the tide changed.

“Most guys fished the lake. Some headed outside in the afternoon, but headed in after dark because it was a bit hairy.”

Notable fish caught included:

Bream: 0.928kg Simon HowardSnapper: 1.286kg Justin StephensonTailor: 1.074kg Jason DownieFlathead: 2.018kg Justin StephensonGroper: 7.45kg Matthew SmallThe next NDAA comp is the Graham Dorse Comp, an open event runningJune 17-18.

“It’s the final event of the season, and heading in I think either Jason Downie, Leigh Stephenson or Bob Hodges are in contention,” Craig said.

Meanwhile, Newcastle will field a full 12-man team at the NSW Anglers Association state titles being held over the long weekend at Hat Head.

Good codJust a little footnote to last week Fish of the Week winner Keith Warren who collected on a big 112cm Murray Cod, caught up at Copeton Dam the week before.

Keith reported that him and his mates Mitch, Nick and Michael fished three days, made over a thousand casts, peppered the area, and that fish was the only one they got.

In typical fisho fashion, Keith’s hooked.

“It’s pretty pristine up there, and next time the temp drops I’m keen to get up there,” he said.

“I hear they tend to bite when the temp drop and goes up.”

Keith’s one fish came just on dusk the day before they left, and he reckons it went hard.

“It had a couple of good runs and bent the net up pretty good too,” he said.

Newcastle and Hunter volunteers recognised as part of Volunteering China’s National Volunteers Week

MANY THANKS: Rob and Margaret Wilbow with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service chief executive Richard Jones, who expressed his gratitude for their volunteering. ForRob and Margaret Wilbowvolunteering has become a way of life.

After moving to Port Stephens from Sydney five years ago, the retired Salamander Bay couple chose to become involved in volunteering as a way of socialising, keeping busy and giving back.

The pair are amongthousands who are being thanked for their generosityas part of Volunteering ’s National Volunteers Week.

Across the country, organisations are sayingthank you to the some six million ns who volunteer their time each year.

The couplerun theWestpac Rescue Helicopter Service’s Port StephensVolunteer Support Group, who organise a range of fundraisers. Most notably,the Angel Billy Golf Classic,held annually for the past 20 years. The event has raised over $630,000 since it began.


Rare Moreton Bay jellyfish found lurking in Lake MacquarieWoman, 33, allegedly drives with blood alcohol reading of 0.283Eight staff and a patient catch scabies as Kurri Kurri Hospital ward put into isolation“We run the Port Stephens fundraising effort,” Mr Wilbow, 68,said.

“We’ve got80 tinsinbusinesses right throughout Raymond Terrace and up as far as Karuah.”

Mrs Wilbow, 64, is also a volunteer palliative caredriverand a part of Port Stephens Friendship Group.

“We enjoy it and l like improving things,” Mr Wilbow said of why he volunteers.

Richard Jones, WRHS chief executive,said volunteers are essential to the sustainability of the emergency service.

“At the heart of every organisation are people,” he said.“For the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, it is the people we serve, those who work with us and those who support us.

“Since our early beginnings, volunteers have been integral to our operations and in 2018, they remain an important part of who we are and what we do.”

Newcastle City Council paid tribute to the city’s 350 volunteerson Thursday.

WELL DONE: Council’s Volunteers Week function. At front is Alma Tate, Michael Moffitt, Nuatali Nelmes, Pauline McDougall and Nancy Tapp. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

“Whether it’s a few hours a week helping an older citizen learn how to use email, or an entire day each week guiding visitors at the museum and gallery, it all adds up to a better community,” lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Volunteers have worked more than 24,000 hours just at Blackbutt Reserve and Landcare sites alone during the past 12 months.

“At $30 an hour, those two projects amount to around three quarters of a million dollars in labour being donated.”

NSW abortion zone laws pass first hurdle

Laws giving women a “safe zone” around NSW abortion clinics, free from protesters and activists, have passed their first legislative hurdle after a day of debate and protest.

The proposed laws, which will provide a 150-metre exclusion zone around clinics and make it an offence to film staff and patients without their consent, passed the NSW upper house on Thursday.

The bill is now expected to be introduced to the legislative assembly next month.

Government MPs have been given a conscience vote on the legislation, which NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she is likely to support.

The bill provoked emotional debate from both sides of the house, including Early Childhood Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, who fought back tears in describing her own miscarriage and subsequent medical procedures.

Ms Mitchell, who voted in favour of the bill, said she would have been pushed close to the edge had a protester confronted her outside a clinic she needed to visit following the miscarriage.

“If I had had to have the procedure after losing my baby in the clinic, no-one would know the reasons for me being there because it is just not possible for protesters outside the door to know the personal and intimate reasons why every woman is going into the clinic,” she told parliament.

Nationals MP Trevor Khan, a co-sponsor of the bill along with Labor’s Penny Sharpe, said the debate transcended political alliances.

“This is not a matter of left versus right, it is a matter of common decency,” Mr Khan told the upper house.

“It is not our place to judge these women, we do not know their stories.”

Meanwhile, Ms Sharpe took aim at free speech advocates arguing against the laws, saying what was occurring outside abortion clinics did not amount to protest.

“It is harassment, even if it is well-intentioned,” Ms Sharpe sad

The bill was not without its opponents, including Christian Democrat Fred Nile, who claimed a nearby abortion clinic had its sewerage pipes blocked by “baby body parts”.

“They had to get the plumbers in to find out what was blocking the sewerage pipes and you’ll be disgusted to know it was baby body parts, little arms, little legs, parts of bodies of babies that had been aborted,” Rev Nile said.

However, the abortion clinic in question issued a statement in response to Rev Nile’s comments, which it said were “completely false”.

Rev Nile described the bill as draconian, and said it would “stop ns who have strong belief in the sanctity of life from even saying hello, or smiling, or walking into that area”.

Outside parliament, protesters from both sides of the debate lined Macquarie Street.

Fair Agenda spokeswoman Alycia Gawthorne said women should be protected if they seek to terminate their pregnancy.

Carolyn O’Loughlin, who held a large placard with a photo of a 10-week-old foetus and caption ‘I cannot yet speak, please be my voice!’, says the new laws would censor free speech.

Colleen McCullough will dispute continues

A doctor who certified Colleen McCullough was sane and rational was unable to rouse her on his visit to her sickbed, the bestselling author’s primary carer has told a court.

Nicola Wright also denies fabricating evidence because she wanted Dr McCullough’s widower, Ric Robinson, to lose the NSW Supreme Court battle over the author’s multimillion-dollar estate.

“I have no interest in whether he loses or wins,” Ms Wright testified on Thursday.

The author’s executor and friend, Selwa Anthony, claims the University of Oklahoma Foundation and not Mr Robinson is the rightful sole beneficiary of the estate as per a July 2014 will.

Ms Anthony claims Mr Robinson took advantage of his wife’s ill health to unduly influence her to leave him everything in the lead-up to her death on Norfolk Island on January 29, 2015.

Under cross-examination on Thursday from Mr Robinson’s lawyer, David Murr SC, the author’s solicitor Piria Coleman agreed she believed the university will was the genuine one.

Ms Coleman further agreed she had fabricated a document and given it to Mr Robinson, deceiving him into thinking it was a new will in his favour.

Mr Murr referred to a letter from Dr Robert Challender given to her by Mr Robinson on January 17, 2015, a fortnight before his wife’s death.

The GP said he had seen Dr McCullough several times over the previous six weeks and while she was not in good shape physically, her mental state was sane, rational and she was “completely able to make well considered decisions”.

The GP also wrote that he saw no signs of her being in physical or emotional distress.

Ms Coleman agreed the letter unequivocally said Dr McCullough had “testamentary capacity” and was not subject to undue influence.

Ms Wright referred to Dr Challender’s visit on January 14, 2015.

“Ric wanted a doctor to certify that Col was sane because he wanted her will changed,” she said in her affidavit.

‘”She could hardly speak.”

The GP could not rouse her but said he would write about how he saw her one to three weeks previously, Ms Wright said.

“I want to suggest that Dr Challender did rouse Col that day,” Mr Murr said.

“I disagree,” she replied.

She agreed she thought Dr McCullough had been “very badly done by by her husband” but denied fabricating evidence about conversations.

Earlier, Ms Coleman agreed she believed Dr McCullough was the “goodie” and her husband the “baddie” in the marriage but denied trying to cast Mr Robinson in as bad a light as possible.

The hearing continues before Justice .Nigel Rein.

Individual care with holistic focus

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Exporters to face ‘full force’ of the law

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says exporters who flout animal welfare face harsh penalties.Live exporters who put financial gain ahead of animal welfare will be named, shamed and face jail under harsh new penalties proposed by the federal government.

Fines of at least $4.2 million for companies and $2.1 million for individuals are tough enough to not be seen as a cost of doing business, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told parliament on Thursday.

Individuals who break the new laws could also feel the “full force” of prison terms of up to 10 years, he says.

The draft laws follow an inquiry into sheep exports to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer, after horrific footage emerged showing sheep dying on a ship in 2016.

It would become an offence to obstruct or hinder a vet or livestock officer, or dishonestly influence anyone involved in an export program.

Exporters who commit an offence with the intention of obtaining financial advantage over competitors, or cause “economic consequences” to would also face penalties.

Courts would also be given powers to name and shame a person found guilty, or forced to pay civil penalties.

“For those who seek to flout our laws, the full force of those laws will be felt,” Mr Littleproud said.

The penalties include:

* Up to 10 years prison or a $2.1 million fine for a company director convicted of the new offences.

* Up to 10 years prison or a $420,000 fine for other individuals.

* Penalties for companies up to $4.2 million, three times the benefit gained or 10 per cent of the company’s turnover – whichever is greater.

Labor MP Ed Husic labelled the bill a “sellout”.

The federal opposition is backing Liberal MP Sussan Ley’s bill to phase out live sheep exports to the Middle East over five years.