Proud history underpins firm’s future

BUILDING ON PROUD HISTORY: New Sparke Helmore Lawyers chairman Andrew White believes his firm is uniquely place to serve the needs of clients.ADVERTISING FEATURESparke Helmore Lawyers is a client-first firm with more than 750 people working from eight offices across , serving the needs of the insurance, government, financial services, technology, mining, construction and property sectors.

Their expertise spans corporate and commercial to construction, workplace to insurance, IP to IPOs, mining to manufacturing, and property to procurement.

Sparke Helmore is one of the largest law firms in , and the longest-serving national commercial law firm in the Hunter, and is committed to putting clients at the centre of everything it does.

Founded in Newcastle in 1882, the firm has had a presence in the city for 136 years and currently employs 112 people in its two Hunter offices, at Newcastle and Muswellbrook.

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Sparke Helmore LawyersSparke Helmore lawyers and staff are part of the local community, contributing to community activities such as the Sparke Helmore Newcastle City Triathlon (since 1994, the triathlon has raised nearly $500,000 for local charities) and Hunter Live (launched in 2009 by Sparke Helmore to offer local business people, educators and government representatives an opportunity to come together and participate in a series of panel discussions and forum events).

Issues of interest to clients in the corporate and commercial area include:

Regional investmentThe City of Newcastle, guided by the 2036 Strategy,is undergoing a rebirth with substantial investment in the CBD and other locations.

Redevelopment of Newcastle Airport offers enormous opportunityto enhance tourism and business connectivity with the rest of .

The mining industry remains buoyant with the demand for energy from traditional markets continuing to grow and alternate energy projects emerging which promise to bring significant economic activity and jobs.

“Sparke Helmore is deeply embedded in local communities of the Hunter region and has a long history of successfully developing key projects andthe associated financing and structuring activities that go with it,” Sparke Helmore chairman Andrew White said.

“We have significant capacity in our Newcastle office, with six partners – Alan McKelvey, Darren Rankine, Martin Taylor and Paul Tobin (all Corporate and Commercial), Greg Guest (Insurance) and Catherine Wilkinson (Workplace) – and 112 employees – including highly regarded Property Special Counsel Helen Murray, Environment and Planning Special Counsel Naomi Simmons and Senior Associate Natalie Vardanega– who have access to the firm’s national network.”

Property and infrastructure developmentSparke Helmore has been heavily involved with the acquisition of land and the drawing up of contracts relating to developments during the revitalisation of NewcastleCBD.

Their deep knowledge and capability combinedwith an intimate awareness of the broad matrix of interests in the city means they’reable to anticipate what’s coming down the pipeline.

“Anyone looking to establish either a core component of their business, or a branch in theemerging Newcastle business landscapeneeds access to advice that is not just purely legal, but formed by an understanding of the local business, economic and planning environment,” Andrew said.

“In many cases there are complex arrangements involving title, planning and physical constraints, and that’s where Sparke Helmore comes into it’s own. We’ve been here for 136 years.”

Evolving industry focusNewcastle has evolved enormously over the last 30 years and so has Sparke Helmore. In the next 10 or 20 years, that rate of change will grow, asit will with all industries throughout the world.

“The core element of any business must be the agility, preparedness and enthusiasm for change and evolution,” Andrew said.

“Sparke Helmore is deeply embedded in the Hunter Region and deeply committed to its future.

“The firm is making significant investments in the Newcastle office and across the country in engineering new ways of providing solutions to clients.

“We are keen to hear from and engage with clients to understand their needs and devise solutions that increase efficiencies and effectiveness of the service we provide.”

Andrew White, chairmanAndrew White is the Chairman of Sparke Helmore, leads the Hunter Commercial Group and is the head of the firm’s national mining and resources group.

For more information about Sparke Helmore, visit www.sparke成都夜总会招聘.au.

Labor says Keolis Downer contract encourages shorter bus routes in Newcastle

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison has accused the state government of encouraging Keolis Downer to “chop up” Newcastle’s bus network by offering it per-passenger incentive payments.

The company said in March that its passenger numbers were up 4.9 per cent in January, a year-on-year rise from304,330 to 319,360.

But Hunter Labor MPs have argued that thecompanyhas divided some direct routes into two and sometimes three separate services under a new network introduced in January.

“Is this an incentive to make the routes shorter, forcing commuters to changebuses, therefore increasing the patronage statistics and the patronage incentive payment?” Ms Harrison asked minister for transport Andrew Constance in parliament on Thursday.

“It is now becoming clear why the minister has been talking up additional services and increasedpatronage numbers – so he can reward Keolis Downer with a big, fat bonus which he signed off onin the contract.

“There is no question that the number of people using our buses needs to be increased. We allwant that.

“But this patronage incentive payment rewards the bus operator for chopping bus routesup into pieces.”

She said the incentive payment was “hidden” on page 239 of the government’s “heavily redacted”10-year contract with Keolis Downer.

Mr Constance responded by saying the government had given Keolis Downer an incentive to attract more people to public transport.

“We’ve seen, from January to January last year, an increase in patronage on Newcastle transport,” he said.

“So, absolutely, very happy to incentivise the private sector to operate the state’s bus network in the way that they do.”

The government and Keolis Downer have foreshadowed route changes in light of customer complaints and two public rallies since the new network began.

The new timetable will not be released until next month, butKeolis Downer said on Thursday that the changes would have a “minor” knock-on effect on other services.

“Bus network refinements will see minor adjustments to other timetables as we work to optimise resources and better meet customer demand,” a company spokesperson said.

Wallsend MP SoniaHornery feared the changes could lead to cuts in her electorate.

“From what I have been told by people working closely on the review, there are going to be cuts to services from Wallsend to Newcastle,” she said.

“I have also been advised that … all of the small changes that should be made to improve the service will be ignored.

“Residents in parts of Shortland will still not be able to get to their nearest major shopping centre at Jesmond without going to Wallsend and changing buses.

“I don’t want a complete reversion to the old routes and timetables.I am happy to admit there have been some improvements in services.”

Transport for NSW weighed into the debate on Thursday night, saying the number of passengers transferring from one bus to another had changed little since the new network began.

“Newcastle went more than 10 years without any changes to its bus network and passenger numbers sank to a point where only three per cent of the local population used public transport,” a spokesperson told the Herald.

“The transport network was overhauled this year, based on data and the feedback of passengers and drivers.

“The result is more than 1200 additional services, providing more options to get people where they want to go.

“The total number of people changing buses remains low, with an increase of just 2.5 per cent compared to the old network. Still less than one in five passengers changes bus services.

“We will not apologise for implementing a system that encourages the operator to meet the needs of more in the community and to improve its service.”

Newcastle Now asks Gladys Berejiklian, council for ‘meaningful’ light rail help

Newcastle Now wants an audience with premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday to try to secure more money for its light-rail relief plan.

The business support group is working on a package to provide immediate financial relief to traders affected by tram-line construction in Hunter and Scott streets.

It has spoken to Newcastle City Council and the state government about backing the plan but hopes to press the point further when Ms Berejiklian visits the city on Friday to help officially open the University of Newcastle’s NewSpace building.

The premier said on a visit to Newcastle in December that the government was “considering” rental assistance for affected business, but nothing has materialised.

Three weeks ago the council proposedits own assistance plan, a 50 per centrebate on a special rate which CBD property owners pay to fund Newcastle Now, but this was dismissed as “tokenistic” by former Newcastle Now general manager Michael Neilson.

Mr Neilson’s replacement, Richard Christian, said the Newcastle Now package would provide “meaningful” relief, unlike the council’s plan.

“I wanted to make clear that what we’re tying to do here is provide a meaningful and targeted package, so we’re concerned with some of the proposals that have been put forward by council and such, that they’re not going to provide meaningful relief,” he said.

“The only thing that’s yet to be determined is how much money will be in the bucket.

“As soon as we have the amount finalisedwe will be able to start referring people to The Business Centre, where they will be assessed.

“They will get immediate help with their financial situations, and they will be assessed on how much money they need and how much will help them through, and that can be accessed straight away.”

The government has not said when Hunter and Scott streets will reopen but says testing on the track will begin late this year.

Mr Christian said he had requested a meeting with Ms Berejiklian via parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

“We feel that the package we’ve got is going to deliver for businesses, so we want some air time with her to present what we feel is the right approach.”

Newcastle Now announced on Thursday the first stage of its relief plan, including free 12-hour consultations with business advisers and financial advice.

Brumbies warning over declining crowds

Crowds at Brumbies games must improve or the Super Rugby club warns it could fold.The Brumbies have warned members the Super Rugby club could fold if crowds continue to decline.

It comes on the back of their second-lowest ever crowd when they held an n derby with Melbourne at GIO Stadium this month.

The Brumbies aim to almost triple that figure of 5283 for their next match against the Sunwolves on June 3.

But in an email sent to members, chief executive Michael Thomson and chairman Phil Thomson explained the dire predicament and pleaded for more support.

“We know you want rugby to thrive in this region and, in part, to achieve this, we need a successful side playing in front of big crowds,” the email reads.

“The funds attendance at games enables us to invest back into our programs … and without your support and those funds the Brumbies may no longer exist.”

After the nightmare attendance against the Rebels, the Brumbies have drawn on three Canberra charities to help lift numbers.

If the Brumbies reach their targeted crowd of 15,000, they will donate $5000 to each organisation.

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

Michael Thomson said on Wednesday the declining figures could be put down to the team’s struggles on the field, troubles within Super Rugby and an ageing stadium in an inconvenient location.

He pointed to the history of sport in Canberra in hope of a quick turnaround.

“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.”

Lib MP’s Vic parliament ‘pig’ jab to Green

A speech on diversity in politics in Victoria’s upper house has exploded into Liberal MP Inga Peulich calling Greens leader Samantha Ratnam a “pig”.

Ms Ratnam had given a member’s statement on increasing gender and cultural diversity in parliaments and pointed to comments by federal Liberal Senator Jane Hume about women who miss out on work opportunities needing to “work harder”.

Her speech sparked a fiery debate, which Ms Ratnam interrupted with a point of order.

“Did you say ‘you’re a pig’ to me? I think I just heard her say that,” she said in the chamber, supported by other MPs.

Ms Peulich was not on her feet at the time of the comment and she could not be heard by the microphones, but she told President Bruce Atkinson “if whatever it was that I uttered was offensive to anyone, I apologise.”

Mr Atkinson told Ms Peulich such a comment was “totally unparliamentary, it is unnecessary” and “certainly doesn’t meet the level of respect that I would expect all members adhere to.”

Ms Ratnam told reporters the exchange was “the lowest form of attack.”

“They can’t defend the fact they have some of the lowest representation of women across parliaments in , I’m so proud to lead a team of eight MPs, seven of which are women,” she said outside parliament.

Ms Peulich said Ms Ratnam should have been attacking the Andrews government’s “poor record”, rather than Ms Hume.

“Ms Ratnam, who professes to be an advocate for more women in politics, used this as a cheap opportunity to launch a nasty and personal attack on Senator Jane Hume and all female Liberal MPs,” Ms Peulich said in a statement.

Inga Peulich.

“I was incensed at this blatant display of hypocrisy by Ms Ratnam and the Greens but did withdraw an intemperate remark I made and hope Ms Ratnam will also apologise for her offensive and misogynist comments.”

In her member’s statement, sent to AAP, Ms Ratnam said “it is clear that members of the Liberal Party have little if any understanding of the privilege and advantage that helped install them and their friends into their powerful positions.”

Ms Ratnam’s family fled from war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s.

When asked outside parliament about the matter, Premier Daniel Andrews said: “I have no comment to make about Ms Peulich and if you can’t say something good about someone, you should perhaps say nothing.”

Hodge rewarded as Rebels rest Debreczeni

Reece Hodge will start as chief playmaker for Melbourne when they take on the Sunwolves.Rest and reward are behind the decision to hand Reece Hodge the five-eighth jersey for the Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby clash with the Sunwolves.

Hodge will start as chief playmaker for the first time after impressing coach Dave Wessels when he shifted to the position during their tight win over the Brumbies.

Wessels says the 23-year-old has earned the start but he also wants to give Jack Debreczeni a rest after starting every other game this season.

Debreczeni has been told to take mini-break to freshen up as they push for a maiden finals berth.

“Jack is one of only two players to have started every game for us and he’s played almost every minute too,” Wessels said on Thursday.

“It’s also a reward for Reece when he did move into that position.

“He brings a nice physical presence to us, particularly in defence in that role and also a fair bit of experience.”

The match is the final audition of Wallabies contenders, with the squad to be named next week for next month’s three-Test series against Six Nations champions Ireland.

With no outstanding contender to play No.10 behind Bernard Foley, Hodge can put his hand up after a strong showing.

While the Tokyo-based side have won their past two games, only five-eighth Hayden Parker remains in the same position from last round, with 14 changes to the line-up.

The team have lost many of their top Japanese players, who remained at home to start preparations for the June internationals, giving Melbourne the perfect opportunity to try to peg back n conference leaders the NSW Waratahs.

The Rebels trounced them by 20 points back in round four but Wessels said they wouldn’t take their opponents lightly.

“They don’t have a lot to lose, which makes it a very dangerous game,” he said.

“They play the type of football that supports a good attacking style that can cause us real trouble if we’re not on.”

OpinionShould we follow other countries and legalise e-cigarettes?

HOT TOPIC: US, Britain and NZ have legalised the sale and use of nicotine e-cigarettes.Are you confused about e-cigarettes? Many people are. Research shows that many ns have heard of e-cigarettes, and some have tried them, but there is also a lot of uncertainty. Nicotine e-cigarettes are readily available in some countries but not . New Zealand has joined the list of nations allowing the sale and use of nicotine e-cigarettes including the US and UK. E-cigarettes are fairly new, and since going on the market in 2004, their use has grown significantly.

In the US,the Centres for Disease Prevention estimate there are about nine million e-cigarette users. Given e-cigarette use is likely to increase in as well, it is important to take stock of what we know so far and where more research is needed.

E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices, which heat a liquid stored in the device that usually contains nicotine and produces a vapour (not smoke) that the user then inhales. The use of e-cigarettes is often referred to as vaping, and users as vapers. Some deviceslook like large pens, while others are slightly larger with tanks. E-cigarettes deliver the nicotine smokers crave, without the tar and many other toxic substances found in burning tobacco cigarettes.

A review published in 2016 of all the available research on whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit concluded that they appeared to be as effective as other forms of nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches. But the review acknowledged more studies were needed to confirm that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.

The evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes suggests they are likely to be much safer and pose meaningfully lower risk of harm than continued tobacco smoking. They are not entirely without risk, and the long term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown. The safest option is to not smoke or vape, but due to their reduced risk compared with cigarette smoking, switching to e-cigarettes is recommended by some health authorities, such as the American Cancer Society and the Royal College of Physicians, for smokers who find it difficult to quit smoking.

Given ’s youth smoking rates are at their lowest, there is concern legalising vaping in will increase uptake among young people and become a gateway to tobacco smoking. However, the population data from countries like the US and UK, where vaping has been allowed for years, shows that youth smoking has not increased at all in that time. Indeed the data from those countries shows that adult smoking is also decreasing, most vapers are smokers or ex-smokers and only a negligible number of non-smokers take up vaping.

The consumer popularity of e-cigarettes means it’s no surprise that big tobacco is increasing its involvement in this market. Mistrust of the tobacco industry is warranted. However, most of the current e-cigarette makers are independents. The aggressive marketing used for e-cigarettes in the US and other countries is a related concern because it is reminiscent of the 1970s cigarette advertisements, branding and imagery.

If e-cigarettes are legalised in , regulations can be designed to limit the marketability of the devices to young people and non-smokers.

E-cigarettes are a safer option than continued tobacco smoking and may help some smokers to quit. More research is needed to clarify some of the gaps in our understanding of their safety and effectiveness as quitting aids.

Professor Billie Bonevski is a researcher,Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle

Fishing Point residents lose on-street parking after Lake Macquarie City Council upgrades their street

Squeezed: Residents of Sealand Road, Fishing Point, say they now have no on-street parking after Lake Macquarie City Council constructed a footpath that left only a narrow gap between the kerb and centre lines. Picture: Jonathan CarrollWhat should have been a welcome improvement to their neighbourhood is a headache, say residents of a Fishing Point street who have lost on-street parking.

Lake Macquarie City Council recently spent $2 million installing kerband guttering, a roadside footpath and double lines on Sealand Road, but residents say theynow face the looming threat of a fine if they try to park on the street.

While they argueit has made it impossible for visitors to park near homes with small or full driveways, council insists the upgrades were a high priority for drainage reasons.

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The footpath replaced a dirt and gravel verge, where vehicles could previously pull off the road.

But combined with the new unbroken double lines on the street –which require a gap of at least three metres between the centre of the road and a parkedvehicle –there’s no longer space for roadside parking.

It’sled to some residents and their visitors parking partially on the footpath and at least onewarning note from a council ranger.

Paul Collins, who has lived in the street for 52 years, will outlinethe concerns at Monday’s council meeting.

Keith McMah, Sandra McIlveen, Paul Collins. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“It leaves us with no safe, legal parking and we’re under threat of being fined every time we do so,” he said. “For 52 years that I’ve lived here, no-one has even been threatened to be booked and we now face that threat.”

Sandra McIlveen, a Sealand Road resident for more than four decades, said she’d had no luck in her attempts to get councillors to the street to see the situation.

“We’ve requested this on four occasions,” she said.

“Even if the double line was not there, we’d be able to park. We were totally unaware that we had a parking problem because in 45 years we have never ever had a parking problem.”

A council spokesperson said rangers were “working with residents in Sealand Road to understand their responsibilities when it comes to on-street parking”.

She said on-street parking was available at Arkington Avenue and Letchworth Parade.

“These works were identified as a high priority for the construction of kerb and gutter infrastructure to alleviate substantial drainage issues along this busy road, which were impacting on the existing road condition,” she said.

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“During the consultation period back in July 2016, council provided detailed information to all the property owners along both sides of Sealand Road.

“During that period council provided a sketch design with details including road width arrangements, proposed retaining wall and footpaths for owners’ consideration and comment.”

Mayor Kay Fraser said Monday’s meetingwould“provide an opportunity for councillors to ask questions … and determine whether any further actions are necessary”.

David Jones celebrates 180th birthday

Retailer David Jones has reached a world first milestone – its 180th birthday.Amid a challenging retail climate, n department store David Jones has reached a unique milestone – its 180th birthday.

Established in 1838, more than 60 years before became a federation, the department store is older than London’s Harrods, Paris’ Galleries Layefette and US stores Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

David Jones was first a one-storey building located at the corner of George and Barrack Streets in Sydney but has since grown to 45 stores across and New Zealand.

It has survived the Great Depression, the global financial crisis and, more recently, the shift away from bricks-and-mortar stores.

On Wednesday, the South African owner of David Jones fired the head of its n operations, John Dixon, as part of a restructure.

It came just four months after the firm wrote down the value of David Jones by $712.5 million because of weak sales across n retail.

But those representing the department store insist it’s here to stay.

“There’s more of a demand for online shopping now but people still want the experience of going into a store, touching and feeling clothes and trying them on,” model and company ambassador Jessica Gomes told AAP on Thursday.

“One of the things David Jones does so well is the customer experience, everything from their personal shopping to the food courts.

“I remember coming into David Jones when I was younger, getting a chocolate coated strawberry from the food court and trying on all the clothes.”

David Jones has also played a vital role in putting on the map, the Perth-born supermodel said.

In a major coup, the department store hosted the first ever showing of Christian Dior’s collection outside Paris in 1948.

It then held a special tribute to the Parisian designer following his 1957 death.

When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Sydney in February 1954, an official state banquet was held at David Jones’ Elizabeth Street store.

The Queen’s favourite designer, Norman Hartnell, was even appointed a designer at the department store.

Gomes will visit David Jones’ Bourke Street store in Melbourne on Thursday to celebrate the occasion with a birthday cake and a champagne toast, and will be involved with Q&A sessions with customers.

Yet the event is far tamer than the store’s 120th birthday celebrations in 1958, when Eddie the Elephant autographed children’s books with his trunk.

Merkel talks trade in Beijing

China welcomes German firms and will protect their investments, Premier Li Keqiang has said after meeting visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Germany supported Chinese investment there.

Merkel faces a delicate diplomatic balancing act on her two-day China visit, which is clouded by US President Donald Trump’s trade threats and his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany and China, two exporting nations that run large trade surpluses with the United States, have found themselves in Trump’s firing line and are scrambling to preserve the rules-based multilateral order on which their prosperity rests.

But while Merkel’s hosts may be keen to send a message of total Chinese-German solidarity in Washington’s direction, German officials have suggested that Merkel must avoid the appearance of siding too openly with China in a confrontation with Germany’s longtime ally.

Li, in a joint media appearance with Merkel at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, said China and Germany both upheld global free trade, and stressed the huge potential for cooperation between them.

Though the two countries had problems, they could be overcome, Li said.

“China’s door is open. You can say it will open even wider,” he said.

China welcomes German producers of autonomous vehicles to invest in China, Li said, pointing out the country had already lowered entry requirements for new energy vehicles.

The two countries needed to strengthen two-way investment in an open and inclusive way, he said.

“If they come across any problems during their investment, especially when it comes to legal protections, I can clearly tell you that China is striding forward to being a country with rule of law,” Li said.

Merkel welcomed China’s recent announcements that it would further open its financial sector to foreign participation and reduce Chinese joint venture requirement in sectors such as automobiles, a mainstay of German investment in the world’s second-largest economy.

In reality, Merkel’s government shares many of the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese business practices, including what many Western countries have complained are state-backed efforts to pressure foreign companies into giving up trade secrets.

But Trump’s “America First” trade policy, his administration’s professed disdain for the World Trade Organisation, as well as his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, have pushed China and Germany into closer alignment, German officials say.

Accompanied by an industry delegation of roughly 20 German executives, Merkel was scheduled later on Thursday to attend a dinner hosted by President Xi Jinping.