No ally fallout from Hastie speech: ASIO

ASIO head Duncan Lewis says clearance wasn’t sought before MP Andrew Hastie made his comments.The head of ‘s intelligence agency doesn’t expect there to be any fallout with allies following Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie’s bombshell speech.

Mr Hastie used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday night to announce that a man known as “CC-3” in FBI documents was political donor Dr Chau Chak Wing.

“The same man who co-conspired to bribe the United Nations General Assembly president John Ashe, the same man with extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr Hastie said on Tuesday night.

Mr Hastie, a former special forces soldier who heads up the parliament’s powerful intelligence committee, had confirmed the matter during a briefing with US officials.

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis said Mr Hastie had a discussion with a junior officer in the lead-up to his speech.

“There was no approach to ASIO formally to provide clearance for what was said,” he told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday night.

Asked about the implications of Mr Hastie’s decision on ‘s relationship with intelligence allies, Mr Lewis replied: “None.”

Mr Lewis said an hour and a half before the speech he had heard rumblings of Mr Hastie’s intentions.

He immediately tasked ASIO’s Washington office to find out the facts of what Mr Hastie had been briefed on in the US.

Dr Chau has donated more than $4 million to both major political parties as well as $45 million to n universities.

Dr Chau’s lawyer Mark O’Brien said in a statement on Wednesday his client was disappointed parliamentary privilege was used to “repeat old claims” just weeks before a defamation hearing.

“Our client has not been charged with any offence, which makes Mr Hastie’s attack all the more extraordinary,” the statement said.

He said his client was confident of being vindicated at the court hearing.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Lewis have discussed the matter.

Foster dad gets life for killing Tiahleigh

File photo of Rick Thorburn (2016). Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt Queensland foster father Rick Thorburn will spend at least 20 years in jail for what police have called the ultimate act of betrayal – snuffing out the life of a young girl he was meant to love and protect.

Thorburn has been jailed for life, meaning he’ll spend at least two decades behind bars, for killing his 12-year-old foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer and dumping her body in a Gold Coast river in 2015.

The 57-year-old murdered the girl who was in his care after his son Trent confessed to having sex with her and became concerned she was pregnant.

Tiahleigh’s badly decomposed body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River, six days after her foster father claimed he’d dropped her safety at school.

In sentencing Thorburn in Brisbane on Friday, Supreme Court Justice David Boddice said his crimes were cold and callous.

“You murdered this defenceless child who relied on you for protection,” he said.

Outside the court, Tiahleigh’s mother, Cindy Palmer, said no amount of jail time would ever ease the pain Thorburn had caused.

“As her mother, no sentence will ever be enough,” she told reporters, having removed a T-shirt she’d worn in court that bore the words “hate you” on the back.

She said Thorburn had killed a beautiful girl with her life ahead of her.

“Rick Thorburn took that away from me, from our family and most of all Tiahleigh,” she said.

Police involved in the long-running investigation that convicted Thorburn, and his wife and sons for covering up the crime, said Tiahleigh had suffered the ultimate act of betrayal by someone who should have protected her.

“She was put into a foster care situation, with people who were supposed to provide and care for her, and those people have allowed this to happen and been part of it. It is an absolute tragedy and inexcusable,” Regional Crime Coordinator Kerry Johnson told reporters.

“The courts have seen fit to sentence him to life imprisonment. I hope that in his cell he thinks about – everyday – what he has done, the life he cut short.”

Earlier, Thorburn wiped away tears on Friday morning as he replied “guilty” to charges of murder, interfering with the 12-year-old’s corpse, perjury, and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Fittler endorses Cordner Origin selection

Brad Fittler has backed Boyd Cordner to lead NSW into a new Origin era.Rumblings about poor form haven’t swayed NSW coach Brad Fittler, who says Boyd Cordner is a guaranteed starter for the Blues in the opening State of Origin clash.

The Roosters second rower and incumbent Blues captain had been criticised by the likes of former NSW coach Phil Gould, who claimed Cordner shouldn’t be picked in the June 6 clash because his game had stagnated.

But on a night where Fittler skirted other selection quandaries for the Melbourne opener, he gave Cordner a thorough endorsement.

“Boyd will be in the team,” Fittler told the Nine Network.

“If I could pen anyone in at the moment barring injury it would be Boyd Cordner.

“Obviously Gus (Gould) and I have got a great relationship – he does things in different ways.

“He (Gould) knows the way I’m thinking and he’d be trying to get the players to be at their best so if he thinks Boyd can go up another gear then he is most probably giving Boyd a prod.”

Other selections appeared to be open.

Fittler didn’t back down about his concerns over potential pivot James Maloney’s defence but spoke highly of him in other ways and gave every indication he was still a strong show of getting picked.

Saturday’s anticipated Penrith-St George Illawarra NRL could yet determine the fate of a number of players including Maloney, his halves partner Nathan Cleary and Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes and centre Euan Aitken.

Aitken is battling for centre spots with Brisbane’s James Roberts and the Roosters’ Latrell Mitchell.

Fittler conceded the latter two exhilarated in attack but had some work to do in defence.

“The thing we’ve got to hope though is that they learned from letting them (tries) in,” he said of Roberts and Mitchell, who both allowed four-pointers to be scored when the Broncos played the Roosters last round.

Fittler, who took over from Laurie Daley this season, felt there’d been a “selfish culture” at NSW in the recent past – something he was determined to eliminate as the Blues sought just a second win from the past 13 series.

“I am going to pick players who are going to think about their teammates,” Fittler said.

Mason Lee accused walks free from court

Prosecutors have dropped a child cruelty charge against Ryan Hodson.A boarder living at the home where Queensland toddler Mason Lee died has walked free from court after the charge against him was sensationally dropped.

Ryan Robert Barry Hodson was expected to plead guilty to a single charge of child cruelty in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday after it was downgraded from manslaughter.

Instead he was released from custody after crown prosecutor Vicki Loury conceded she was unable to substantiate the allegation against Hodson, who was 17 years old at the time.

It followed Justice David Jackson’s questioning of the legality of the charge.

He told the court the cruelty offence arose because Hodson was left alone with the toddler on three occasions on June 10 and failed to seek medical attention.

Mason’s body was handed to paramedics over the fence about 12.45am on June 11.

It is estimated he died between two to four hours earlier.

Evidence given during a committal hearing revealed he died as a result of a rupture to his small intestine, believed to have been caused by blunt force trauma up to five days earlier.

Justice Jackson said he was not convinced Mason was in Hodson’s “lawful care or charge” and as such any conviction could set a dangerous precedent.

“He was not an adult, that’s critical in this,” he said.

Justice Jackson said if Hodson was convicted it could pave the way for siblings in other households where a child is harmed to be charged with cruelty.

He said while Hodson could be described as uncaring and irresponsible there was no evidence to suggest he hurt the toddler or was responsible for him.

Mason’s mother Anne Maree Lee and stepfather William Andrew O’Sullivan are yet to face trial for manslaughter, while Hodson remains a witness in the case against them.

Blues rule out Murphy for Geelong AFL game

Carlton skipper Marc Murphy will be sidelined for the second time suffering another foot injury.Carlton have ruled out skipper Marc Murphy for Saturday’s AFL clash with Geelong, and the Blues skipper could face several weeks on the sidelines as a result of his latest foot injury.

Murphy missed five games with a plantar fasciitis injury and disrupted scar tissue in the same foot in his return to action last weekend.

The 30-year-old was on crutches at Princes Park on Thursday and will have scans on Friday, admitting the issue could be more serious than initially thought.

“At the moment I’m not really too sure what’s going on with it,” he told the Seven Network.

“It could be scar tissue, it could be a re-rupture, so not too sure yet.”

In better news for bottom-placed Carlton, brothers Charlie and Ed Curnow will return for Saturday’s game at Kardinia Park along with swingman Jacob Weitering and David Cuningham.

Jarrod Garlett is among three omissions for the Blues, who copped a 109-point drubbing from Melbourne last weekend.

Geelong have also swung the axe following their 34-point loss to Essendon.

Ruckman Rhys Stanley returns with Zac Smith one of four players omitted.

Struggling St Kilda will welcome back Jake Carlisle and Paddy McCartin for Saturday’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.

The reigning premiers have dropped Sam Lloyd and Jacob Townsend while Jason Castagna has been rested with general soreness.

Both Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs have named key inclusions for Friday night’s clash at Etihad Stadium.

Ben Reid, Josh Daicos and Levi Greenwood return for the Pies while star recruit Josh Schache will make his Bulldogs debut.

Brisbane will line up unchanged against Sydney while a freak injury means the Swans will be without Callum Mills for the rest of the season.

The Swans say Mills was throwing an American football with teammates on the way back from a cafe on Thursday when he tripped and fell, breaking his foot.

Big guns Josh Kelly and Jonathon Patton are back for Greater Western Sydney’s game against Essendon, who will welcome back young star Andrew McGrath.

Hawthorn’s Jaeger O’Meara and Fremantle’s Stephen Hill are among the inclusions for Sunday’s games.

O’Meara returns along with James Frawley to face ladder-leaders West Coast, who have been bolstered by prime mover Elliot Yeo being declared fit to play.

Hill is set to face North Melbourne, minus rested big man Majak Daw, at Optus Stadium.

Melbourne have named Tom McDonald at full-forward for their match against Adelaide in Alice Springs despite the swingman hurting his foot at training on Thursday.

Prolific midfielder Matt Crouch returns for the Crows, having missed last week’s game with hamstring soreness.

Gold Coast and Port Adelaide have the bye after playing in Shanghai last week.

NRLCronulla skipper Paul Gallen reckons the Newcastle Knights won’t be a consistent top-eight side for “two or three years”. Can they earn his respect on Sunday?

HE has been arguably their harshest critic over the past few seasons, and the Newcastle Knights are running out of opportunities to earn the respect of Cronulla warhorse Paul Gallen.

OUTSPOKEN: Paul Gallen

TheSharks visitBeanies for Brain Cancer Stadium on Sunday and will be intent on racking up their seventh consecutive victory against Newcastle, a streak dating back to 2015.

The two teams also clash at SharkPark on Sunday, August 26, in the penultimate round of the season.

Gallen is yet to make a decision about his playing future, but given that he is the NRL’s oldest player and turns 37 in less than three months, 2018 could well be his last hurrah.

If that is the case, the Knights have only two more chances to impress one of the champions of the modern era.

Gallen has certainly pulled no punches in recent times with brutally honest assessments of Newcastle’s performances and prospects.

In particular, he struck a raw nerve last November when he declared Mitchell Pearce “might live to regret” his decision to sign for the three-time wooden spooners, rather than Cronulla, after he left Sydney Roosters.

In a column on sportingnews苏州夜总会招聘 website, Gallen declared: “In my opinion, Newcastle are two or three years away from beinga consistent top eight side.

“As for winning competitions, well, I just can’t see that happening for a long, long time … I fear Mitch’s rep career may be a casualty of having to do it all at club level.”

That prompted Knights coach Nathan Brown to respond by suggesting that Gallen was “probably a little disappointed because his window of winning another comp is closing”.

Brown added that in 2014, “Cronulla were last, they haddrugs charges against them, they were going nowhere”.

Gallen hit back at what he labelled a “low blow” and a “cheap shot” from Brown, and reiterated his belief that Pearce was taking “a risk footy-wise” in joining the Knights.

“Talking of clubs going nowhere, maybe three straight wooden spoons indicate that Newcastle are the ones treading water,” he wrote.

Gallen’s dismissive attitude towards the Knights has been something of a recurring theme. Few were arguing with him after the Sharks inflicteda 62-0 slaughter in Newcastle in 2016.

“To be fair, and not to be too critical, the side we played against today were very inexperienced and there wouldn’t be too many players who played for Newcastle today who would make any other first-grade side, really,’’ Gallen said at the time.

“We just did what we had to do. And that’s [we] went well and held them to nil.’’

If that was just a candid, andvalid, observation, there was a touch of arrogance 10 weeks later when Cronulla beat the Knights 36-4 at Shark Park and Gallen was asked about a confrontation with rookie Newcastle forward Mitch Barnett.

After initially claiming he thought Barnett was“a winger”, Gallen said with a laugh:“There you go. I don’t even know his name, that’s how much I care.’’

Asked after training on Thursday if his players would want to prove a point on Sunday, Brown replied:“I think if Gal watched us in the first 10 roundsor so, when we had Mitchell and those guys on board, maybe he’d think:‘Maybe these blokes are a little better than I thought’… but we’ve obviously lost a few troops since then, and we’ve lost our last few games, so he’s probably thinking he was right at theminute.

“But I would think that Cronulla would come here, and every side that is playing us these dayscertainly hasfar greater respect for us today than they did this time last year, that’s for sure.”

Meanwhile, Brown said centre Nathan Ross, who had been in doubt with a groin injury,“trained very, very well” on Thursday and should be fit to tackle the Sharks.

Boris Johnson discusses Putin with hoaxer

Britain’s foreign office has confirmed Boris Johnson was targeted by a Russian prank caller.British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took a phone call from a Russian prankster posing as Armenia’s new premier, responding to his request for advice on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the latest embarrassment for the gaffe-prone British politician, Johnson congratulated the hoax caller, whom he believed to be Nikol Pashinyan, on winning an election earlier this month.

He was told that Pashinyan planned to meet Putin in Sochi next week and would like advice ahead of the talks.

“I hope he will not poison me with Novichok,” the fake Pashinyan said, referring to the nerve agent implicated in the poisoning of a Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

Johnson laughed before replying: “Well, it’s very important, I think, prime minister, that we don’t have a new Cold War.”

The attack on the Skripals was “a terrible mistake,” Johnson said, according to an audio recording of the call circulated by Russian pranksters Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, known online as Vovan and Lexus.

“Their behaviour is generally very, very disruptive and it’s bad for Russia and, if I have a message to Putin, it is: We don’t want a Cold War but we do want to see an improvement in the way Russia behaves,” Johnson said.

He laughed again when the caller praised his irreverent, offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but he still appeared to take most of the 18-minute conversation seriously.

After 14 minutes, Johnson appeared to want to end the call, saying: “Thank you very much, prime minister.”

Britain’s foreign office later confirmed Johnson had been hoaxed and said the perpetrator was “childish”.

Johnson is no stranger to controversy. In the run-up to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, he compared the goals of the European Union to those of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon.

Convicted archbishop asks: ‘pray for me’

Convicted Archbishop Philip Wilson has asked Catholics to “pray for me”.Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has asked the Catholic faithful to “pray for me” in a letter distributed after his conviction for covering up child sexual abuse during the 1970s.

The letter was distributed across the Archdiocese of Adelaide, including to parents of students in Catholic schools, drawing criticism from some.

It confirmed his intention to stand aside from his role on Friday after putting in place the “necessary administrative arrangements” to ensure the affairs of the archdiocese are managed responsibly.

“I know we are a united community of believers, a people of hope, and we will continue to be the disciples of Jesus,” the 67-year-old wrote.

“We have achieved great things in all facets of the life of the archdiocese, including in our parishes, schools, social services, health and in aged care.”

Wilson said he wanted to assure the Catholic faithful of his “continued prayers and best wishes”.

“Please continue to pray for me,” he wrote.

Some people took to social media to criticise the letter, particularly its failing to mention the victims of abuse.

On Tuesday, Wilson was found guilty at Newcastle Local Court of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

He is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse and faces a maximum two years’ jail.

In a statement issued by the Catholic Church on Wednesday, Wilson said it was appropriate to stand down in light of Magistrate Robert Stone’s findings.

“If at any point in time it becomes necessary or appropriate for me to take more formal steps, including by resigning as Archbishop, then I will do so,” he said.

He is still considering Mr Stone’s reasons alongside his legal advisors.

“In the meantime, while the remainder of the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence,” the clergyman said.

Cautious Labor looking at tax cut plans

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen says Labor will examine the coalition’s long-term tax plan carefully.Labor isn’t “wild” about proposed tax cuts in 2024 but will look at how they affect people before deciding whether to back them, although it still wants them split from the government’s broader plan.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor has plenty of time to go through details of the government’s seven-year tax plan.

“You don’t make these decisions based on a quick look on figures that we finally dragged out from Scott Morrison,” Mr Bowen told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“You take your time to look at them carefully. We want to have a look at the distributional data.”

Legislation to introduce a new low- and middle-income tax offset, which will provide $530 relief each year and lift the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000, passed the lower house on Wednesday night.

But Labor refused to support the rest of the tax plan, which has more cuts in 2022 and 2024, until it saw more detail.

Treasurer Scott Morrison released that detail on Wednesday night, revealing parts one and two – which include the July 1 changes and part of the later cuts – will cost $102 billion over the medium term.

The final stage will cost around $40 billion, bringing the total to $143 billion over 10 years.

“We’re not wild about that third stage of the tax cuts plan (in 2024), so we’ll do our best to separate the tax relief for working people,” Labor’s finance spokesman Jim Chalmers told Sky News.

“We’ll try to pass our fairer alternative, if we’re unsuccessful we’ll then have another conversation about it.”

Meanwhile the government’s corporate tax cut plans are also before the Senate, with Pauline Hanson refusing to back them until she talks to her One Nation colleagues.

“(The government has) got to prove to me and the people of that we can start paying down debt,” Senator Hanson told reporters on Thursday.

Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson denied reports the coalition was considering splitting the election of both houses of parliament as a potential fix to the Senate’s crossbench impasse.

“There’s always people in politics who want to suggest ideas about how they think they can brilliantly solve the electoral challenges of any political party or any government,” he said.

North Korea says still open to talks

North Korea says it is still open to talks with the US after President Donald Trump called off a summit with leader Kim Jong-un, saying it hoped the “Trump formula” could resolve the stand-off over its nuclear weapons program.

Trump on Thursday announced his withdrawal from what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, scheduled for Singapore on June 12, in a letter to Kim, citing North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility”.

Trump’s decision came after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out of the summit over what it saw as confrontational remarks by US officials.

“We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other US presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement carried by state media on Friday.

“We even inwardly hoped that what is called ‘Trump formula’ would help clear both sides of their worries and comply with the requirements of our side and would be a wise way of substantial effect for settling the issue,” he said, without elaborating.

Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea’s recent criticisms of certain US officials had been a reaction to unbridled American rhetoric, and that the current antagonism showed “the urgent necessity” for the summit.

“His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we cannot but feel great regret for it,” Kim Kye Gwan said, adding that North Korea remained open to resolving issues with Washington “regardless of ways, at any time”.

North Korea had sharply criticised suggestions by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, and Vice President Mike Pence that it could share the fate of Libya if it did not swiftly surrender its nuclear arsenal.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed by NATO-backed militants after halting his nascent nuclear program.

Trump had initially sought to placate North Korea, saying he was not pursuing the “Libya model” in getting the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

While the Trump administration had insisted on North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear program, Pyongyang had always couched its language in terms of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea on Thursday announced it had completely dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility “to ensure the transparency of discontinuance” of nuclear testing.

Trump, in his letter, warnd Kim of the United States’ greater nuclear might.

Speaking later, Trump said the US military stood ready if Kim were to take any “foolish” action and that the US would continue its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who worked hard to help set up the summit, said he was “perplexed” by the cancellation. He urged Trump and Kim to talk directly.

China, North Korea’s lone major ally, said the US and North Korea should show patience.

“In the present situation, we really hope that the United States and North Korea can cherish the recent positive progress, exercise patience, show goodwill and meet each other halfway,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.