Katter says downer too right wing

Mayo Liberal candidate Georgina Downer’s political views are “dangerously right-wing”, Independent MP Bob Katter says.

During a visit to the electorate to campaign with Rebekha Sharkie, Mr Katter said Ms Downer had emerged from “extreme right-wing politics, dangerously right-wing sort of areas”.

He said he might be characterised in a similar way but for his focus on helping the poor.

Ms Downer’s father, Alexander Downer, held Mayo for the Liberal Party from 1984 until 2008.

Mr Katter is also the child of a politician but insisted he had not been helped into parliament.

“I’ve made my own way in life,” he said.

Ms Sharkie won Mayo from the Liberals in 2016 but was forced to resign earlier this month after being caught up in the citizenship saga.

The two cross-benchers toured a men’s shed in the Fleurieu Peninsula town of Yankalilla on Wednesday before holding a question and answer session at a nearby community centre.

Mr Katter praised Ms Sharkie’s grassroots style and questioned whether Ms Downer had earned the backing of the local community.

“If I’m looking to put someone up for parliament, I want to know what they’ve done for their community,” he said.

Ms Sharkie again apologised to Mayo voters for sending them back to the polls.

“I, hand on heart, put in my documents in April 2016 – long before they even thought of having a double dissolution, and I didn’t spend a single day in the parliament as a dual citizen,” she said.

Mr Katter and Ms Sharkie disagreed at times during the hour-long session on Wednesday, including on the issue of how many visas should be issued.

But she said that was the strength of the crossbench.

“We all come together with different views on a whole range of issues where we both proudly support n-made, but how you get there is a little different,” she said.

Ashley Edwards, 35, who attended the forum, said support for Ms Sharkie in the region was strong.

“I’d be very surprised if she didn’t get back in,” he said.

“She’s kind of like your next door neighbour but she speaks up and that’s what this area really needs.

“I thought it was an odd pair-up but the independents are helping each other out and that’s really good to see.”

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group awarded for its wetland restoration on Ash Island

The tidal wetlands around the Port of Newcastle are home to a number of threatened species and communities. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNewcastle Coal Infrastructure Group has been recognised at the 2018 PIANC Working with Nature Awards for restoring wetland habitat on Ash Island.

NCIG was the recipient of a certificate of recognition, which is the first to be received by an n project since the establishment of the awards in 2014.

The group has been working with National Parks and Wildlife, the University of NSW, Hunter Bird Observers Club and other groups to re-establish the endangered coastal saltmarsh ecological community.

The tidalwetlands around the Port of Newcastle are home to a number of threatened species and communities. The coastal saltmarsh vegetation community and numerous species of migratory shorebirds, such as the critically endangered Eastern Curlewand Curlew Sandpiper,are increasingly losing habitat along the Australasian-East Asian Flyway.

NCIGcreated habitat for migratory shorebirds in an area close to the terminal site, specifically Ash Island in the Hunter Wetlands National Park.

The construction of habitat on Ash Islandincluded restoration of 24 hectares of migratory shorebird habitat, including removal of 17 hectares of juvenile mangroves, installation of an automated flood gate to manage tidal levels and managere-establishment of mangroves in the habitat, installation of mangrove seed screens to prevent mangroveseeds from floating into the habitat system and installation of “bird diverter” devices on local electricity infrastructure to make power lines more visible to birds flying in and out of the habitat.

NCIG’s CEO, Aaron Johanse, said the nomination is testament to NCIG’s commitment to the environment and the local Hunter Estuary wetlands.

“The migratory shorebird habitat restoration project is unique in its type and scale and unlike any other conducted in ,” he said.

“The great beneficiary of this project however is local wetland communities and the vulnerable and endangered migratory shorebird species which rely on them.”

Astronaut’s push for Sydney space agency

n astronaut Paul Scully-Power is helping NSW bid for the country’s inaugural space agency.’s first astronaut Paul Scully-Power says he will bring everyone “back down to earth” after being announced as the face of a push to have NSW secure a national space agency.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday Dr Scully-Power will advise the state government on how to host the n Space Agency.

The NSW government will attempt to link its bid for the headquarters with Sydney’s new “Aerotropolis”, which is being built around the new Badgerys Creek airport, the premier confirmed.

“If we can potentially house our space industry in that precinct it would just be an overwhelming boost for our state,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters at Sydney Observatory in Millers Point.

But Dr Scully-Power has ruled out any potential space agency having a launch pad to rocket humans into outer space from NSW.

“I don’t think we are in the business of sending humans into space as I hate to tell you what NASA spent on me,” Dr Scully-Power told reporters.

The 73-year-old flew on the space Shuttle Challenger in 1984, after being selected by NASA to be a payload specialist on the 13th space shuttle, for eight days and 133 orbits.

Dr Scully-Power also spoke about a space agency developing technology, such as having thousands of nano-satellites orbiting the earth in near space “fairly low down” to lead commercial development across the nation.

“I guess it is my turn to bring you all back down to earth,” he said.

Earlier this month, the federal government pledged initial funding of $15 million to get the agency off the ground on July 1, predicting the industry will be worth $12 billion by 2030.

The state’s bid for the headquarters of the nation’s first space agency will be discussed at an Aerotropolis investor forum, hosted by Ms Berejiklian and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Monday.

ANZ admits errors in giving franchise loan

ANZ executive Kate Gibson says numerous errors were made when granting a small business loan.A senior ANZ executive admits a $220,000 loan given to a couple for a gelato franchise was not done with the care and diligence expected of banks.

Kate Gibson, previously in charge of small business but now head of home lending at the bank, was grilled over the 2014 loan at the banking royal commission on Wednesday.

The money was given for the first n outlet of a New Zealand gelato chain, which ultimately failed, largely based on a business plan filled with pages of “clip-art”, the commission heard.

The borrowers complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service that ANZ should not have approved the business loan and other credit facilities totalling $220,000 because they could not service the debt.

The ombudsman found in the customer’s favour.

Ms Gibson admitted a “number of errors” were made by the bank – including basic data entry mistakes, which other people then relied upon.

“Errors are going to be made, that’s just life,” she told the commission.

“There are human beings involved and errors will be made. But when I stepped back and looked at the cumulative number of errors here I was not comfortable.

“I don’t think that level of error is acceptable.”

Asked by senior counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC whether she thought that ANZ had demonstrated the care and skill of a prudent and diligent banker, Ms Gibson replied: “No”.

Meanwhile, Westpac defended its decision to lend money to a Victorian woman and her business partner for a Pie Face franchise.

Marion Messih gave evidence on Tuesday that she had to sell an investment property when the store she bought with her sister-in-law failed.

She said the bank insisted it would take all of what was still owing on the business loan – not only her half at $165,000 – from the sale proceeds.

Her sister-in-law is now repaying Ms Messih $120 a week.

Ms Messih said she would have had money left over after clearing all her debts, including mortgages on the investment property and her home, through the $750,000 sale.

Westpac executive Alastair Welsh told the commission on Wednesday he reviewed the application and, while conceding there were a “few gaps” in the information provided to the bank, he was broadly “happy with it”.

“The loan should have been made,” the general manager of commercial banking said.

It’s at odds with FOS, which agreed with the woman that the loan should not have been given. However, it found the bank was entitled to take the full amount owed for the business loan.

Mr Welsh acknowledged that the bank was bound by FOS’s ruling but it disagreed with the determination.

Salvation Army latest voice to call for lift in unemployment benefit

AT the start of the month, Liberal MP Julia Banks found herself the object of public ridicule when she said could live on the $40 a day –or $545.80 a fortnight – that a single person with no dependants receiveson the unemployment allowance, Newstart.

Even the head of the Business Council of , Jennifer Westacott, said it was impossible to live on that amount, but when Scott Morrison unveiled thebudget a few days later, Newstart was left as is. Former prime minister John Howard, who put a freeze on Newstart payments in the 1990s, alsoweighed into the debate, saying he believed the policy had “probably gone on too long”.

While the Greens say they are reviving their push for a $150-a-fortnightincrease in the allowance, opposition leader Bill Shorten skirted around the subject in his budget reply speech, saying only that Labor would review the payment system.

As the n Council of Social Service points out, theHoward government’s freeze on Newstart payments mean they havefallen substantially, in proportional terms.

By comparison, theFair Work Commission has setthe national minimum wage for 38 hours at $694.9 a week or $1389.80 a fortnight. A recent University of NSW study found a basic life –rent,food, transport, clothing, health-care and power bills –cost$433 a week or $866 a fortnight.

And now, an annual Salvation Army survey of those using its services has found the average Newstart recipient is living on $17 a day once accommodation costs aretaken care of. The survey does not paint a pretty picture, with 40 per cent of those surveyed experiencing “food insecurity”. Half moved house in the past year, with a quarter moving because of family violence. More than half say they are going backwards financially.

The Coalition government has traditionally viewed Newstart as a temporary payment to tide people over between supposedly short-termbouts of unemployment but official statistics show that more than 180,000 people are unemployed for more than a year, with more than half of these jobless for at least two years. If someone cannot work, our society is wealthy enough to ensure that no person should be left behind. If the government is looking to spend the billions it will not be losing in big business tax cuts, returning Newstart to something like its old relativity would be a good start.

ISSUE: 38,907.

Brumbies want Super Rugby crowd boost

The Brumbies have struggled on and off the Super Rugby field in 2018.The Brumbies are aiming to virtually triple slumping home crowd numbers for their next Super Rugby home game.

Only 5283 fans were in attendance at GIO Stadium for the ACT team’s match against the Melbourne Rebels earlier this month.

It was the second lowest crowd in the franchise’s history, only a turn out of about 4000 in 1999 was worse.

Brumbies chief executive Michael Thomson says the disastrous figure can be put down to the team’s struggles on the field, troubles within Super Rugby and an ageing stadium in an inconvenient location.

The Brumbies, who have won just three games this season, are targeting a figure of 15,000 for the June 3 clash with fellow cellar-dwellars the Sunwolves.

It would easily top their biggest crowd for the year (13,515) which came against the NSW Waratahs.

Thomson is confident the club can bring fans back to the game and is drawing on three Canberra charities to help do it.

If the Brumbies reach their targeted crowd, they will donate $5000 to each organisation.

“Scheduling is a challenge but if we play the right football, we play entertaining and continue to connect with our community we’re confident people will come,” Thomson said.

“If you look at the history of sporting teams in Canberra, sometimes they turn quickly and we’re confident if we continue to do the right things people will come back.”

The Brumbies have long pushed for a new stadium to be built in Canberra and the ACT government has been investigating options for one to cater for rugby, rugby league and soccer.

Thomson says an indoor stadium in the middle of the city would automatically lift crowd numbers like it has done in Dunedin for the Highlanders.

“We’d rather it (happened) next week but the (ACT) government has to work through some of its priorities,” Thomson said.

“But we believe the government is supportive of a stadium in the city, it’s just a matter of when.”

The Brumbies are averaging crowds of 8,464 this season – the lowest of the four n Super Rugby teams – in their 25,000 capacity stadium.


8,122 v the Sharks, March 17

13,515 v NSW Waratahs, March 31

7,598 v Queensland Reds, April 7

8,053 v Jaguares, April 22

8,215 v Crusaders, April 28

5,283 v Melbourne Rebels, May 12

Bellambi man jailed after admitting he masturbated on northbound Illawarra train on Boxing Day

Guilty: John Smith surrendered to police after seeing this photo of himself on the NSW Police Facebook page. Source: NSW Police

A Bellambiperve caught masturbating on a train on Boxing Day last year has been sentenced to full time jail.

John Anthony Smith, 24, was charged with obscene exposure and committing an act ofindecency after female passengers on the 6.24am train from Dapto to Bondi reported seeingSmith repeatedly pleasuring himself as he stared at them.

Court documents said Smith, dressed in a long, baggy blue t-shirt, black tracksuit pants, a black cap and white shoes,moved from seat to seat, masturbating his penis to erection in front of a number of women over a 16 minute period.

Smith admitted his guilt during a court appearance in March,entering pleas to both charges.

Police documents tendered to the court in Smith’s case reveal he did not speak to any of the women during the bizarre display but stared at them while performing the acts.

One of the women contacted police, who metthe train at Waterfall Railway Station a short time later.

The women provided details to officers at the time then gave them a writtenstatement the following day.

Police obtained CCTV footage of the incident, however, when unable to identify Smith from their records,they putput out a plea for help via Facebook.

The post included still photos of Smith walking along the platform.

The court heard Smith surrendered to police the following day.

“Smithacknowledged it was him in the footage but stated he could not remember the incident at all,” court documents said.

Investigating police

However Smith did agree toletofficers photographthe shoes and the hat he had been wearing.

He was taken to Wollongong Police Station by declined to be formally interviewed.

In court on Tuesday, Magistrate Cate Follent sentenced Smith to seven months’ jail, with a non-parole period of four months.

She acknowledged that he had been under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, and while did explain his actions, said it did not excuse them.

“He needs to receive drug and alcohol counselling upon his release to parole,” she said.

With time served, Smith will be paroled on July 8.

Illawarra Mercury

Acclaimed artist Wendy Sharpe leaves her mark on Maitland gallery

LIFE FRAGMENTS: Wendy Sharpe watching dozens of her works on paper being arranged and displayed on a wall for her exhibition, “Secrets”. Pictures: Simone De PeakIN her long and celebratedcareer as an artist, Wendy Sharpe has gone to the farthest corners of the world and even deep into a conflict zoneto paint. Now she is reaching new heights in the name of her art.

Sharpe is suspended in space above Maitland Regional Art Gallery’s ground floor, as she paintsdirectly onto a wall.The artist is standing on a scissor lift, which has been raised about six metres. She is staring intently ahead, guiding the brush across the wall. Sharpe may be fearless in pursuing painting subjects, but she’s not that keen on looking below.

“It’s a little bit scary,” Sharpe says later. “But I get to paint huge whacking things on these walls.

“And I don’t look straight down.”

Workingon a scissor lift brings other challenges. There’s no stepping back to check the image, and the artist has to prepare great dollops of paint on a palette before hopping onto the lift. What’s more, she has had to “relinquish” control of the lift to gallery assistant Edward Milan.

HIGH CULTURE: Wendy Sharpe, right, with assistant Edward Milan, on a lift. Picture: Simone De Peak

More than painting on the gallery wall, Sharpe is paintingthe gallery on the wall. She is depictingthe majestic century-old building that houses the gallery. As the building takes shape in paint, Sharpe lifts her brush off the wall and turns.

“Starting to recognise it?,” she asks.

Sharpe is addressing a cluster of onlookers standing on the first floor. Just like anyone performing at heights, she has drawn a crowd. But it’s not just the thrill of the high-flying creative act that keeps the spectators, it is the rare opportunity to watch afamousartist at work.

“She’s a goddess in the art world,” says Megan Barrass, herself an artist. She has travelled from Port Stephens to meet Sharpe and observe her painting.

“The opportunity here, it just doesn’t happen usually. We’re very lucky to have her here.”

Wendy Sharpe paints the gallery building on the gallery’s wall, as spectators watch on. Picture: Scott Bevan

Wendy Sharpe is one of ’s best-knownpainters. The art “goddess”won ’s highest-profileartaward, the Archibald Prize, for her Self Portrait –as Diana of Erskineville. It is one of a string of awards Sharpe has won.

In 1999, she was appointed an official artist by the n War Memorial to depict the n troops’ efforts to restore peace in East Timor. She has set up temporary studiosand painted in places ancient and remote, from Egypt and India toAntarctica.

These days, she and her artistpartner Bernard Ollis also spend a lot of time working in Paris. So more than the world being her oyster, it has been Wendy Sharpe’s muse.

The plan to have Sharpe as an artist-in-residence at Maitland was hatched a couple of years ago, when the gallery’s director, Brigette Uren, met with the painter.

While Sharpe has created murals and painted inside galleries before, what has beenforming on the walls, and the interest it has been creating, pushes beyond what Uren imagined.

“It’s so exciting to see the gallery like this,” Uren says, as she looks out at the spectators.

“I love the performative aspect of it, and to experience a leading n artist first-hand would have an immeasurable impact on the audience.”

Wendy Sharpe working on her Maitland version of “Red Dress”. Picture: Simone De Peak

In her three days as artist-in-residence in Maitland, Sharpe has painted a string of large images on the gallery’s walls.One painting is a version of her self-portrait,Red Dress.Only in this image, which is almost five metres high and more than three metres wide, Sharpe acknowledges the Hunter with a pattern of grapes on the dress, and, in the background, she has paintedthe Maitland railway signal box. She photographed the building when she arrived by train from Sydney on Sunday.

“It’s such a distinctive building,” Sharpe says. The artist shows me a historic photo she was given. The photowas taken during the1955 flood that ravaged the city, and it depicts asignal box sittinglike an island amid surgingwaters. That signal boxwas washed away, replaced by the building Sharpe has depictedon the gallery wall.

On another wall, high above the ground floor, she has painted three figures carrying a building. It is her tribute to what she has seen around Maitland, with its grand heritagestructures.

“I was so shocked by how stunning the architecture is here,” Sharpe says.

Wendy Sharpe working on the scissor lift in Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Simone De Peak

Yet perhaps her favourite building is the gallery itself, not just for the architecture but for what is happening inside it. She calls the gallery “such a special place”. It is why she accepted the artist-in-residency.

“Coming to a place like this, I can do whatever I want, and I’m supported,” Sharpe explains. “And this gallery is helping create an art precinct. As I’m walking along this main street, I see other shops starting as art galleries. So it’s becoming more of a special place.”

Director Brigette Uren says Sharpe’s presence in the gallery displaysa strongconnection between a city-based artist who works at the highest levels anda region that loves exploring new ideas.

“I consider Maitland people very generous in how inquisitive they are, in wanting to find out more,” Uren says. “And it’s in that spirit Wendy works;she is very generous. So I think that makes it amatch fromheaven.”

Dozens of Wendy Sharpe works on paper form part of the Secrets exhibition at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Simone De Peak

Wendy Sharpe has descended from the artistic heavens near the gallery’s ceiling to inspect aninstallation. For the paintings she’s doing on the walls are part of a larger exhibition of her work in the gallery, titledSecrets. The exhibition reflects the diversityof her career, from the places she has visitedto her residency with Circus Oz.

Dozens of Sharpe’sworks on paper are being arranged and fastened onto one wall by three gallery volunteers. The images range from quickly drawn sketches, capturing a thought or a moment before it driftsaway, through to fine watercolour paintings.

The images depict fragments of exotic scenes,love in all its connotations, burlesqueperformers bathed in light,and silhouettes under a night sky. There are sketchesof strangers, and self-portraits.

Each image stuck on the wall is brimmingwith life of some sort. But the sum of these parts is a lung-tearing cheer for the beauty of humanity, and for the joy of life itself.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” Sharpe says, smiling, as she watches the volunteers sift through her images strewn acrossthe floor. “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”

Dozens of Wendy Sharpe works on paper form part of the Secrets exhibition at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Simone De Peak

I notice a few images have been drawn on bar coasters, collected on her travels. “Yes,” she responds.“The publicans of Maitland should lockaway their coasters!”

“This is about things you don’t normally get to see,” Sharpesays of the wall of images.“There are dreams or ideas you don’t pursue, and there are works you could frame.

“I’m often asked about a painting, ‘Where didyou get the idea from?’. Well, this is a bit of a clue to that.”

So this exhibition, as the title suggests, is letting the viewer in on a secret. We learn howan artist thinks and works.

“It’s very rare to see this,” says the exhibition’s curator, Kim Blunt.“You see an artist in situ, making decisions, making art, and feeling comfortable about it.

“It says a lot about Wendy that we get to see her practice in its entirety. It’s the result of many parts.”

When the exhibition is over, Sharpe’s wall imageswill be painted over, a thought that makes Kim Blunt wince: “It’s going to be a weird sensation, painting over the work.”

POPULAR: Wendy Sharpe signs a catalogue for fan and art teacher Alita Knaggs. Picture: Simone De Peak

When she’s not painting on the walls or inspecting works being hung, Sharpe is talking to spectators.

She is wearing a spattered apron, and her arms are blotched with a burgundy paint.But that hardly dissuades onlookers, who line up for selfies oranautograph.

“She’s got a big fan club, actually,” says Alita Knaggs, an art teacher from Fingal Bay, who has just secured an autograph on a catalogue.

“I’ve been teaching Wendy to my students this year.”

The artist herself is preparing to climb back onto the scissor lift. There is a wall image to be painted. She turns back to the onlookers, smiles and hollers, “Come to the opening on Sunday!”

Wendy Sharpe at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Simone De Peak

Alita Knaggs nods and watches Wendy prepare to ascend once more. Not that Sharpe can climb any higher in her eyes.

“This is the first time I’ve met her,” Knaggs says. “And she stands up to her reputation.”

Secrets.Maitland Regional Art Gallery until August 19. Official opening with Wendy Sharpe, from11am, Sunday.

No longer Wayne’s World at Broncos

Will Wayne Bennett receive the dreaded tap on the shoulder from his beloved Broncos?For 24 years, the Brisbane Broncos have been Wayne’s World.

No longer.

In what would have been unheard of just three years ago when Wayne Bennett made his triumphant Broncos return, the seven-time premiership coach may receive the dreaded tap on the shoulder from his beloved club.

Broncos CEO Paul White says Bennett will be Brisbane coach in 2019.

However he gave no further guarantees after confirming on Wednesday he had spoken to off contract Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy about a 2020 deal amid reports of a four year, $5 million-plus offer.

Bennett was Brisbane’s foundation coach in 1988.

His future was so secure at the club he never signed a contract during his 21-season stay before departing for St George Illawarra.

And when Bennett returned in 2015, the master mentor reckoned he would “never leave again”.

Suddenly it is not up to Bennett anymore.

Bennett’s record still speaks for itself as he approaches a record 800th game – Thursday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta.

Six titles for Brisbane and an overall winning percentage of 62 with 490 wins from 799 matches.

Only the man Brisbane are pursuing – Bellamy – has a better record.

But Brisbane are a club that craves success.

And as they endure their longest title drought in history – 12 years – it seems their patience with Bennett has worn out.

“We know we have a coach until the end of 2019 but we are not a club that will sit on our hands and hope the future plans itself,” White said.

“Craig may accept the Melbourne offer. If he does, so be it but we will also look to the future.”

If the Bellamy deal falls through, Bennett admitted he would have to do something early next year Broncos fans would never have predicted – go to the Brisbane board with cap in hand and ask for another season.

“Craig will make a decision whether he will stay or not. If he doesn’t then you could say the ball is in the air,” Bennett said of his future.

“I have to make a decision on whether I go to the board (early next year) and say ‘I want to go another year, will you consider me?’

“They are all things to be played out later on. Time will sort it out.”

But time may be running out at the Broncos for Bennett.

For years at the Broncos, Bennett had to make the difficult decision as to whether a club champion would remain at the club or be moved on.

Now he admits he will have to direct that same sobering assessment on himself.

“I let players go over the years because I thought their careers were coming towards an end – I have to make that decision about me,” Bennett said.

“No one is more honest about me than me. I won’t lie to myself, never have and won’t do it now because I could jeapordise careers here – that is not happening on my watch.

“I have always put the club first and nothing is going to change with me.”

Bennett hasn’t done much wrong since returning to Brisbane in 2015.

He took them to the grand final in his first year and steered them to top five finishes since.

Yet there is only one gauge to success for Brisbane, a point made clear when entering their new-look clubhouse – the $27 million state of art Clive Berghofer Centre.

In the foyer Brisbane’s six premiership trophies are on display next to an empty stand – where the Broncos aim to put their next bit of silverware.

“Regardless of how many premierships we may win at this club there will always be an extra plinth in that foyer, because we are always striving for something more,” White said at the centre’s opening this year.

“This club has been established on success.

“We want to win the premiership.”

China can produce cars again: Gupta

British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta says can produce cars again – but on a smaller scale.Producing cheaper, lighter electric cars means can again be a competitive vehicle manufacturer, a leading British industrialist says.

Sanjeev Gupta, whose company, GFG Alliance, recently bought South ‘s Whyalla’s steelworks, has committed to small-scale local production of electric cars.

“We will definitely in the next two or three years have a car in production in ,” Mr Gupta told the n Energy Storage Conference in Adelaide on Wednesday.

He said traditional car manufacturing could be disrupted by small-scale operations using technology inspired by Formula One racing.

The company aims to produce around 30,000 units annually, using lightweight composite panels, to be sold for around $20,000 to $30,000

“It’s a very different way of thinking about cars, it’s a much cheaper way of making cars, and you can make them in a much smaller volume,” he said.

The billionaire did not elaborate where the plant would be located but has previously earmarked South or Victoria as options.

“Whether it’s here or in another part of the country is something to work through, as to what conditions are best for that production,” he said.

Mr Gupta said he was also committed to increasing his company’s renewable energy production in to 10 gigawatts to support his local ventures.

He said batteries and solar combined had great potential to take pressure off the grid for both industry and households.

“These two solutions together will change the energy mix for sure for our generation and the next,” Mr Gupta told the conference.

The British industrialist purchased the former struggling Arrium business in 2017 pledging to invest $1 billion in modernising the plant.

His company also plans to build major battery storage facilities in Port Augusta and Whyalla.