Government watchdogs and professional bodies accused of not doing enough to stop conman accountant Ray Walker fleecing clients of $10 million

CONMAN: Fraudster Newcastle accountant Ray Walker who stole more than $10 million from clients.RAY Walker appeared to be a typical suburban accountant, spending his days handling business and tax affairs for clients in offices across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

Walker and his wife of 40-years, Jennifer, lived very comfortably in a $1.6million house in an upmarket area of Hamilton South.

He liked European cars, she liked to shop, he sent their children and grandchildren to private schools, they regularly holidayed overseas and had a $1.3 million holiday unit on the beach at Port Stephens.

But warning signs that Walker could be bank-rolling his lifestyle by pilfering from his clientswere visible to authorities and professional bodies, and many suggest, others around him, well before he committed suicide in 2015.Allegations of serious professional and financial misconduct had dogged Walker for decades. Yet, Walker was allowed to continue to practise, ultimately stealing more than $10 million from 70 clients.

Lake Macquarie carpenter Richard Galloway lostmore than $300,000, his entire retirement savings, to Walker. MrGalloway saidWalker was givensecond, third and fourth chances by a regulatory system that appears reluctantto publicly blow the whistle and end the career of dodgy operators.

“There werea series of failures by government organisations and licencing bodies that are meant to protect the public,” he said.

“Where are the checks and balances in the system? This guy had a long history of getting into strife and we had absolutely no idea, the public is not being protected because the system does not work.”

Walker’sdisciplinary record was already marred as far back as the early 1990s for bad conduct when he was brought before the Company Auditors and Liquidators Board where his registration as an auditor was cancelled in October 1992.He was also banned by the n Securities and Investments Commission from managing a corporation for five years from September 1991.

Retired chartered accountant, Peter Hicks, who hasattendedFederal Court bankruptcy hearingsin Sydney this year into Walker’s estate, said he became aware of Walker being involved in money laundering in the1980s.

Mr Hicks, who was appointed liquidator of Walker’s building company – Sepega Building Supplies – on the petition of the n Taxation Office, said Walker had beenrippingpeople off for decades.

During investigations of Sepega, Mr Hicks uncovered cash transactions going through Walker’s trust account, he reported it to police who executed a search warrant and discoveredWalker wasinvolvedin money laundering.

DEVASTATED: Richard Galloway,of Lake Macquarie, who lost more than $300,000, believes more should have been done to stop Walker.

“The business model made no sense to me as it was a building company with no qualified builder,” Mr Hicks said.“Included in the list of creditors were about half a dozen retired coal miners who relied onWalkerandhad no idea of the risk they had assumed.

“I did not refer theRayWalkermoney laundering to the ATO or the Tax Agents Board, which I now regret.”

A complaint was made to the Institute of Chartered Accountants andWalker was found guilty in 1990 of“failureto observe a proper standard of professional care, skill or competence” and fined $1000.

An investigation revealed he “intermingled his clients’ and personal affairs” in the RE Walker Trust Account.

Newcastle solicitor Rob Brook, who represents many of Walker’s victims, described the punishment as “less than a slap on the wrist”. Mr Brook said the professional body, renamed Chartered Accountants and New Zealand (CAANZ), laterrewarded Walker by promoting him from a regular member to a fellow.

“At the time he was using his front as a respectable accountant to advise clients to deposit tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars into his trust account,” he said. “The hundreds of thousands in client money misappropriated by Walker turned into millions over years.”

The exact number of complaints made against Walker to regulatory and professional bodies isunclearbecause the majorityofdealings are confidential.

The Herald is aware of oneclient who made a complaint about Walker, not long before hisdeath, to the Financial Ombudsman Service .

Another complaint was lodged with the ombudsman in July 2008 in relation to a company that was co-directed by Ray Walker and his accountant son Brett Walker, Capital Asset Investments Limited.

The companyserved to filter huge sums of client funds stolen by Ray Walker.

BUSINESS PARTNER: Brett Walker, who said he knew nothing of his father’s fraud, and his wife, Renee.

In November 2011, a furthercomplaint about Capital Assets Investments Limited, was lodged with the Financial Industry Complaints Service. Brett Walker has said he knew nothing abouthis father’s fraud and did not benefit from it.

Ray Walker’s victims said if they had any idea of the rogue accountant’spast, they would never have given him a cent or used him as their accountant. They believe there should be a public register detailingall adverse findings against accountants.

Amid the deluge of client files, company documents and legal letters surrounding the collapse of Ray Walker’s $10 million Ponzi scheme, there wasa client email in 2013.A disgruntledBrisbane-based client wroteto Brett Walker, who worked alongside his fatherfor more than 25 years, raising concern about money he had invested in one of Ray Walker’s schemes.

The clientwas unhappy about the lack of detail supplied by Ray Walker aboutmoney, invested through aself managed super fund, in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, at Carrington.Repeatedly unable to get a response from Ray Walker, who managed the investment, the clientaskedBrett Walker for help.

DEMANDING ANSWERS: Jim Todhunter, who lost $200,000, said the system did nothing to protect victims.

“Note: I would really like to see the booksandhave them audited as it all appears rather dodgyandthe whole thing has an odour to it,” hewroteto Brett Walker on December 5, 2013. “Can you organise an official audit of the books for this trust?”

The chicanery the client was talking about was indeed real. Ray Walker’sclients lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in aunittrust afterhe sold the central asset, the former Cosmopolitan Hotel,without their knowledge.

Jim Todhunter, ofHamilton South, lost $200,000 in the unit trust thatpromisedannual returns of 5.2 per cent.Mr Todhunterinvested via Ray Walker $100,000 from his super and another $100,000 on behalf of his daughter who has autism. Walker had been his accountant for 31 years.

He said the $10 million fraud should have been uncovered sooner but too many people failed to act on complaints and telltale signs.

“We were let down by the inaction of the regulatory authorities and professional bodies,” he said.“If I had any idea Walker had complaints against him, there is no way I would have given him money, none of us would. We were completelyin the dark.”

Despite a veneer of professionalism,Walker’s business was a wobbly amalgam of clients who he befriended over decades so he could take advantage of them.In somecases the closer the friend, the bigger the fraud.

Carol McKinstry, formerly of Hamilton, lost $350,000 from her superannuation. The 71-year-old, who shared many a meal with Walker, will now not be enjoying the retirement she planned. “It’s far from funny to be 71 and suddenly have your security blanket ripped out from underneath you,” Mrs McKinstry said. “It seems like the money vanished from the moment he got it. It’s too depressing to even think about.”

Since Walker’s suicide inJuly, 2015, there are plenty of theories around about how he got away with it for so long, but the bottom line is that he fooled people based on his reputation, that appeared to many unblemished, and lengthy association with them.

MrsWalker told the Federal Court she was unaware of the source of her husband’s wealth, stating he handled their finances and“if he said we could afford it, naturally I believed him”.

Many of Walker’s victims attended hisfuneral unaware their money had been frittered away. A Hamilton man,wholost$300,000, wrote a glowing tributein Walker’sfuneral guest book.

ANGRY: Carol McKinstry, who lost more than $350,000, said Walker was a master of deceit.

“I knew Ray for 20 years and he consistently proved himself a stalwart friend, confidanteand professional. He was as genuine a person I’ve met and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

For something that lasted decades it certainly unravelled fast. Walker’s estate is all but worthless andunlessthe ongoing bankruptcy trustee investigation can identify a way for creditors to access funds, theylook likely to get virtually nothing.

Do you know more? [email protected]成都楼凤.au

Growth hormone could play critical role in stroke rehabilitation and recovery, Hunter researchers say

Hope grows: Study co-authors, post-doctoral research fellow Dr Lin Kooi Ong, and University of Newcastle associate professor, Rohan Walker, were part of a team who found a link between growth hormone and stroke recovery.HUNTER researchers believe human growth hormone could play a critical role in improving the quality of life of stroke survivors.

Up to 80 per cent of survivorssuffer from memory loss and learning difficulties, but acollaboration between University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute andSweden’s University of Gothenburg has found administeringgrowth hormone after stroke“significantly” improved cognitiveperformance. The first-of-its-kind treatment could be a game-changer in stroke recovery and rehabilitation, the study’s co-author and post-doctoral research fellow, DrLin Kooi Ong, told the Newcastle Herald.

“Ourfindings are remarkable, and very exciting, because in pre-clinical modelling we found that the growth hormone considerably enhancedmemory and learning performance,” he said. “Our results show a significant improvement in learning and memory tasks after the therapy, as well as a reduction in neural tissue loss.”

RELATED: Young stroke survivors struggle to return to work.

The growth hormone treatment also promoted “brain plasticity”by aiding new blood vessel growth and the repair of “neuronalnetworks” after stroke.

“Wetook a microscopiclook at the brain cellsandfound a huge spike neurotrophic factors, which act as brain fertiliserto help brain cells grow and improve function,” Dr Ong said.

While growth hormone was already used in medical treatment, this was the first time ithadbeen applied for its possible link between stroke and recovery.

“It is alreadyapproved for human usage as a therapy for patients suffering growth hormone deficiency, and the safety and efficacy profile of it is well documented,” Dr Ong said. “We have the capacity to re-purpose this drug to be used in the context of stroke recovery, and it is already looking very promising.”

RELATED: Life changes in one stroke.

Dr Ong said the next step was clinical trials.

Their research had evaluated the effects ofadministering growth hormone at 48 hours post-stroke for 28 days, but he was optimistic it would also benefit those who had suffered a stroke years earlier.

“The brain continues to remodel and re-network throughout our lives, so this treatment will actually givehopes to many stroke survivors –in there is almost half a million,” he said.

Co-author and HMRI directorProfessor Michael Nilssonsaidthere had beensignificant progress in reducing deaths from stroke, but the effects could be long-lasting.

“Our community is faced with the new challenge of treating and rehabilitating survivors, hence the importance of this work,” he said. “This encouraging discovery will be a welcome development for all those touched by the devastation stroke can leave behind.”

Manly’s dramas made them closer: Barrett

Manly coach Trent Barrett says his squad are ready for another NRL victory against Canberra.Manly’s sustained run of off-field dramas that threatened to destroy their season could prove the catalyst that propels an unlikely shot at the NRL finals.

Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett declared his team had turned a corner on Thursday, as they prepare for a shot at a third straight road victory against Canberra on Friday night.

After enduring a winless April following their ill-fated Gladstone trip, Manly have shocked Brisbane and Melbourne in consecutive weeks to put themselves back in finals contention.

Victories over the Raiders and North Queensland in the Origin-affected round 13 could put them back in the top eight, a situation that would have been considered impossible a fortnight ago amid the fallout from the Jackson Hastings affair.

“Through a bit of adversity you do learn a lot about each other,” Barrett said.

“I think we have turned the corner. We pushed through a fair bit of drama on and off the field.

“Through tough times you find out who is in it and who is going to fight their way out of it.”

Central to Barrett’s concerns over the next month is the availability of his players.

Manly are down to just 21 available members of their full-time roster, after Dylan Walker was ruled out for six weeks with a fractured eye socket.

They also face the prospect of being without Tom and Jake Trbojevic next week against the Cowboys due to Origin duties, while Barrett is hopeful Daly Cherry-Evans and Apisai Koroisau could join the brothers at the MCG on June 6.

“(Cherry-Evans) is playing very well,” Barrett said.

“I think his last 18 months of footy have been very good. I think he has done himself no harm in the way he is playing.

“As for Tom and Jake, exactly the same. Their last three or four weeks have been very good. Tom came through a bit of a hard patch and came out the other side of it.

“With Api, it just depends what Freddie (Fittler) wants. They’re all (fellow NSW No.9 candidates Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes) very good ball runners but Api is probably a bit more creative than the other two.”

Barrett’s depth will be further tested if Martin Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake are picked for New Zealand in the Denver Test.

But they have received good news this week, with Jorge Taufua back on Friday, Brad Parker and Jack Gosiewski fit for next week and forward Kelepi Tanginoa set to return from what was originally thought to be a season-ending knee injury in round 18.

Lake Macquarie paramedic Tony Jenkins’ suicide in April raises serious questions for NSW Ambulance

Hunter paramedic’s family asks: ‘Where was the care for Tony?’ Plans: Mrs Jenkins with one of her husband’s uniforms. They had planned to travel to Bali together in May, and to Italy in September. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Tragic: Hunter paramedic Tony Jenkins’ suicide after a meeting with NSW Ambulance about Fentanyl abuse has devastated his family and shattered colleagues.

Questions: Sharon Jenkins and daughters Cidney (left) and Kim with family dog Louie. The family was shattered by Tony Jenkins’ death. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookPlease feel free to call me at any time if you need to chat or vent. Thinking of you and please don’t feel you’re alone.

Text message sent to Tony Jenkins by senior NSW Ambulance officerIf our fact-finding shows anything to the contrary then I’ll be the first person to take that to Sharon and the rest of the family and admit that we did fail in our duty of care.

NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan

In recent years he suffered from workplace anxiety and stress over increasing violence against paramedics on the job, particularly involving drugs. Emails showed complaints about paramedics being sent to potentially violent jobs without adequate information.

Kim Jenkins said the locker revealed “a mountain of correspondence about Dad trying to get things changed”. They also revealed a man who despaired of that change occurring.

In one document he writes about “waging a losing battle” after a potentially violent incident and when “nothing happened in the service I just kept my own list of dangerous jobs we were being sent to”.

Searching: Mrs Jenkins with Tony Jenkins’ nephew Shayne Connell. They were together when told Mr Jenkins had died. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

“I felt it was causing me more anxiety trying to sort of take on this cause so I just said ‘F…it’and decided to get on with my job,” Mr Jenkins wrote more than a decade ago.

Mr and Mrs Jenkins and daughter Cidney were to fly to Bali on May 7 for a holiday. There was a longer trip for the husband and wife in September, to Italy. They had already paidthe $12,000 cost.

“There was no pre-planning in what he did when he died. Tony was a very organised person. If he was planning anything he would have set things up but there was nothing. Financially he prepared nothing,” Mrs Jenkins said.

His nephew Shayne Connell, a Cancer Council manager, said there were no explanations for Mr Jenkins’ suicide, other than events on April 9.

“For the family the only trigger was that day at work,” he said.

Documents obtained by the ABC found there have been almost 100 investigations into paramedics misappropriating addictive drugs in over the past eight years, with 36 in NSW.

NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan defended the service’s handling of events around Mr Jenkins’ death but “if our fact-finding shows anything to the contrary then I’ll be the first person to take that to Sharon and the rest of the family and admit that we did fail in our duty of care”, he said in an ABC interview.

“He was this well-respected, well-regarded professional and it concerns me greatly that a person with that reputation could find themselves so desperate that their only option was to turn to drugs and addiction,” he said.

Lifeline: 131114.

Letters to the editor Monday May 28 2018

SEEING RED: Reader Lindsay Brown says residents in the Williamtown red zone deserve support beyond rate relief proposed by Port Stephens Council.SO THE Williamtown red zone’sresidents may get a 50% reduction in their rates (“Rate relief for red zone”, Herald 24/5).Isn’t that good? Wait, no, it’s half good. Actually, no – it is a tokenistic gesture at best, when the only real solution appears to be a complete buy-back of their valueless properties (“No buyout”, Herald 8/5).

How very compassionate of Port Stephens Council to offer them some relief at least. Hang on – who is paying for it? Oh that’s right, I am, and we are. How very generous of Port Stephens Council to charge us all extra on our rates so they can buy some credibility with the poor souls being shafted by our federal government. Of course, I don’t begrudge the red zone residents the $2.50 per year, possibly every year for the rest of our lives, while the government continues its cruel avoidance tactics.

Wait a minute, didn’t I just read that the same council stands to receive $20 million in rental fees fromthe recently approved sand mine on Cabbage Tree Road (“Sand trap”, Herald 10/5)? The sand mine in the red zone, where residents are not allowed to disturb their soil?

Some simple mathematics, and some very basic logic, tells me that $20 million income from amining lease would go a lot further than my $2.50towards lowering rates for the red zone residents being further punished by that mine’s very existence.

There would probably even be some change.

Lindsay Brown,Anna BayNO TEARS ASVOLUNTEERSI READ with interest the article by Dr Rachel Winterton in last Wednesday’s Herald (“We must do more to help older volunteers”, Opinion 23/5)concerning older volunteers, many of whomare keeping the wheels turningthroughout rural and urban areas of .

It’s disappointing to read that the difficulties many of these good people are facing in their volunteer roles is causing them to withdraw support.

I encourage these people to look elsewhere if possible, find something close to home, choose another option if possible. Volunteering can be such a rewarding role.

I report almost every Thursday for duty at Lingard Hospital, where I am welcomed with smiles, asked how my week has been, thanked for what I do, and made to feel like part of the team. Yesterday the Lingard volunteers were taken out by the busy CEO and some executive staff for lunch, and presented with beautiful floral arrangements and certificates of appreciation.

I enjoy going there. I’m appreciated. I feel useful. It makes me happy. It provides companionship.

To the unhappy or burdened volunteers out there, please look for another option which will enrich your life, not burden you.

Thurza Snelson,MerewetherSHOT IN THE FOOT FOR PLANANOTHER day in America, another school shooting – the 16th so far this year and the 22nd mass shooting.

As usual, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its enforcer Donald Trump will trot out some diatribe in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

It is noteworthy that the armed school security officer, a retired police officer – presumably well-trained and skilled in the use of firearms – was critically wounded without impeding the gunman in any way. This makes a further mockery of Trump’s proposal for superficially-trained school teachers to be armed to defend schools. Just imagine if instead of an experienced former police officer, a school teacher surrounded by students was required to confront the gunman.

It would undoubtedly have led to even further carnage. It is yet a further reminder of how fortunate we are in this country where the laws and the culture do not bow to the ridiculous notion of individuals having an unfettered right to possess and use firearms regardless of legitimate need.

John Ure, Mount HuttonGET THE WHEELS IN MOTIONJEFF Corbett(“Breaking a killer cycle”, Opinion 19/5), banning cyclists from main roads goes against the council’s 2030 vision document. Directly from Newcastle City Council’s 2030 vision (with full community consultation) is: “Walking, cycling and public transport will be viable options for the majority of our trips”. It reduces congestion and makes main roads faster. Win, win, win for everyone.

Based on current budgets, it will take over 40 years to complete the CycleSafe network. This 2030 plan is a continuation of the last two decades of seeing active transport as a fringe transport option.

We need a drastic change of plans to get the majority of trips in active transport by 2030 (currently under 10%). We need council money and time put into the network to achieve its 2030 vision. The council’s 2030 vision is for most trips to be a viable option for walking and cycling, meaning short trips under five kilometres that are considered too dangerous now.

To achieve this vision we need a fully separated from cars pushbike network by 2019, then 11 years of intense social schemes to get the new generation transitioning to walking and cycling.

We need to reverse people’ habits people have gotten into for mental health, for liveable cities, for safety, for economic sustainability, for improved local business and for less road congestion.

Dan Endicott, IslingtonHONOUR PORT DESPITE STORMIN A port the size of Newcastle, with a maritime history second to none in the southern hemisphere, the largest coal port on our planet, a city whose raison d’être is its harbour and maritime, a community of people whose forebears are all in someway connected to Newcastle’s maritime traditions, it beggars belief that our Newcastle City Council, our Port Authority, the Hunter Development Corporation, harbour stakeholders, the Newcastle Herald and indeed the Newcastle community can betray such indifference and apathy to the demiseof our maritime museum (“Vote to wind-up maritime museum”, Herald 22/5).

How does one wind up 220 years of maritime history?

Erica Townsend, KotaraIT COMES AT A COST$75 MILLION (“$75M Sunk”, Herald 25/5)? If you need that much advice, personally I can only doubt whether you are qualified for the job.

Ed Matzenik,Maitland

Formerphotographer Don Brewster remembered as devoted family man

Never forgotten: Don Brewster is survived by wife Gaye, daughters Lisa, Kristen and Megan and their partners Mark and Sharon and grandchildren Nic, Alex, Olivia, Will, Hannah and Thomas. He leaves a collection of around 40 cameras. DON Henry ‘Farf’ Brewster packed the adventures of ten lifetimes into one.

Across 80 years he was an award winning photographer, rambunctious storyteller, newsagent, entrepreneur and travel guide, but above all else, he was a family man.

“He was a very loving and generous man who could never say no to his three darling daughters,” said his youngest,Megan Brewster.

“He was a softy and he was my hero. He was the most supportive father and would always say to us ‘If you want something, go for it. Never give up, just give everything a go’, which we did.

“I’m going to miss his cuddles, his love, his guidance and his positivity, even through the hardest, darkest days.”

Mr Brewster passed away atCarey Bay Gardens on May 15.

His life will be celebrated at 1pm on May 29 at Lake Macquarie Memorial Park, Ryhope.

“He and mum [Gaye] lived 10 lifetimes in one, which has made his loss a little bit easier in a way,” Ms Brewster said.

“Not many people get to do that, but they had a truly amazing life – they went away 150 times together overseas.”

Mr Brewster was raised at LT Creek at Fennell Bayfishing, building boats and racing hydraplanes.

His first job was as a junior clerk at Newcastle Newspapers in around 1954.

He applied for a vacant cadet photographer’s position on the Newcastle Sun and was mentored byMilton Merrilees, who he eventually succeeded as pictorial editor of the Newcastle Herald and Newcastle Sun.

“He would say he would have paid them to work there,” she said.

“He was born to do it and loved the excitement of it.”

He met journalist wife Gaye when she wason assignment from Sydney.

“They were each engaged to different people but it was love at first sight,” Ms Brewster said.

“They married three months later. He never loved anybody the way he loved mum –he adored her.”

The couple raised daughtersLisa, Kristen –who was a camera woman at NBN and later Channel Ten in Melbourne – and Meganat Coal Point, before moving to Toronto and Buttaba.

He took his girlson trips on his wooden boat Compass Rose, on holidays including tobogganing and skiing and relished watching them play sport.

“They were the biggest socialites and always having parties–I still remember them laughing till the early hours of the morning with friends and neighbours, they used to have a ball,” she said.

“He had cracker stories –you could bring up any subject in the world and he would have a story about it. Whether they were true or not who knew, buthe was very convincing.”

Mr Brewster operated Coal Point Newsagency, was a franchisee of catering company n Spit Roast Professionals and assisted Gaye, by then a travel agent, takinggroup tours overseas.

Wallis Lakes Mens Shed members to vote on plan for administrative autonomy

DISPUTE: Richard Bateson (left) and Shaun Coyne are seeking for administrative autonomy for the Wallis Lakes Mens Shed. Photo: Sally CodyreMembers of a Hunter mens shed have complained about ‘sweatshop’ like conditions where they were forced turn out bread boards andfurniture for the group’s parent organisation.

The allegation is one of a number of claims of men who worked at the Wallis Lakes Mens Shed, which is administered by Tuncurry-based groupGreat Lakes Community Resources Inc.

The shed’s 100 members are seeking to break away from the group’s control and will vote on Monday to have the shed’s resources transferred to the recently formedForster-Tuncurry Mens Shed.

Great Lakes MP Stephen Bromheadhas backed the push for autonomy.

Community Resources, which founded the shed in 2010, is resisting the push and has warned members they will not be allowed to access the facility or its equipment if they defect to the new men’s shed.

The wrestle for the control of the shedbegan late last yearwhen the previous executive was ousted in ballot.

Newly installed treasurerShaun Coyne said he was shocked to learn the shed did not have financial autonomy.

“We are not able to pay a bill or raise a bill without prior permission with Community Resources, also a request for petty cash would take a week to process,” he said.

The shed’s executive has requestedthe Minister for Fair Trading investigate the administrative relationship between Community Resources and the Wallis Lakes Mens Shed.

President Richard Bateson said members had complained theyfelt pressured to produce work as if they were working in a commercial workshop.

“Last year the guys were working in a sweatshop,” he said.

“It’s meant to be a place where you can work at your own pace. If you don’t want to do any work that’s fine too. But these guys were getting tapped on the shoulder to turn stuff out only to find the money was going to Community Resources.”

A Great Lakes Community Resources’ spokesperson rejected the claim.

“Wallis Lakes Men’s Shed is a fantastic facility, one of the best in the world, where men can practice hobbies at their leisure,” the spokesperson said.

Disgruntled members registered the name Forster-Tuncurry Men’s Shed and opened a separate bank account in February in an attempt to move forward.

“The accounts from2012-2017 showwe were making consistent losses. We have made $16,000 in the five months since we opened our own account,” Mr Coyne said.

“We have also seen membership increase by about 30 per cent.”

Meanwhile, the dispute over the shed’s administration has prevented a $8100 state government grant, awarded to Wallis Lakes Men’s Shed,from being accessed.

The spokesperson said he believed the dispute could be resolved and Community Resources would continue to administer the shed.

“We (Community Resources)don’t think anything is broken. We would need to be persuaded there needs to be change,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson will attend Monday’s meeting as an observer.

Great Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead said he supported the members’ push for administrative autonomy.

“Whilst I recognise the assistance Great Lakes Community Resources has provided in their infancy, the shed is now more than capable of managing their own affairs”

“I am disappointed that Great Lakes Community Resources has not put the wishes of the Shed membership first and foremost, in handing over control to the members”

Qld researchers help develop Zika ID tool

Researchers claim the technique is 18-times faster and 110-times cheaper than the current method.A cost-effective tool developed in part by University of Queensland researchers to quickly identify mosquitoes infected with Zika virus is being tested in Brazil.

Working in partnership with Brazilian colleagues, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation researchers Maggy Sikulu-Lord and Jill Fernandes have discovered Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) can identify mosquitoes with the disease.

The researchers claim the technique, which involves shining a beam of light on the mosquitoes to determine if the insect is infected, is 18-times faster and 110-times cheaper than the current detection method.

“We can quickly identify mosquitoes that are infected with Zika virus so public health authorities can treat affected areas before disease spreads to humans,” Dr Sikulu-Lord said.

“This is definitely going to be a game-changer in disease surveillance, especially in the prediction of disease outbreaks.”

NIRS technology has been shown to have a 94 to 99 per cent accuracy rate in identifying infected mosquitoes in labratory conditions in Brazil.

The technique is now being tested under field conditions in Rio de Janeiro.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which can cause abnormalities in unborn babies and has been linked to the paralysing condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Dr Sikulu-Lord hopes the World Health Organisation will use NIRS in countries where Zika is endemic to predict outbreaks and treat mosquito populations in time.

She also believes the technique had the potential to detect several other diseases including dengue fever or malaria.

Straight Outta Compo at Wests New Lambton on Saturday, May 26

Culture of comedy in a politically-correct world | PHOTOS Comedy Central: Straight Outta Compo will be held at Wests New Lambton.

The four-man cast of Straight Outta Compo.

George Kapiniaris in Acropolis Now.

George Kapiniaris in Acropolis Now.

A scene from Acropolis Now.

The Acropolis Now crew.

Nick Giannopoulos and Mary Coustas from Acropolis Now and Wogs Out of Work.

TweetFacebookStraight Outta Compton, and the stereotypeof immigrants being on worker’s compensation.

As for the show itself, Joe says “we don’t like to call it ethnic humour anymore because it’s for everybody”.

“The four of us – a Lebanese, Turk, Greek and I’m the Italian –we call it generational comedy.”

Some of the humour compares the differences betweengenerations.

“Our version of Snapchat was taking a picture of our backside and developing it at the local pharmacy,” he said.

And there’s the differencebetween family affection shown today, compared to when Joe was a kid.

“Our kids get things from their parents and grandparents thatwe never got, like love,” he joked.

Joe’sdad says things to his granddaughter like “I miss you”.

“The only time my dad said to me ‘I miss you’ was when he went to whack me and I ducked.”

They joke about how life’s changed –things likepeople freaking out over leaving their phonecharger at home.

“When we were growing up, the worse thing we had to worry about was leaving the house and putting the alarm on,” he said.

He saysthe show is clean.

“You can bring your family and kids. We have a lot of fans who are kids,” he says.

“It’s not just for the ethnic audience. It’s a great comedy show for the masses.”

Fake SnakeTopics ran a picture on Tuesday of a fake snake in a tree on Redhead Road.

Simon Webber told Topics that he could “uncover the secret of the tree python of Dudley”.

“There is a rather tall, slimly-built character who goes by the name of Brad King. He’s along-time resident of Dudley with a wonderful young family,” Simon said.

“Brad’sson is a mad Steve Irwin fan and a lover of snakes.”

Simon said Brad bravely climbed up the gum tree to coil the reptile on a branch, much to the delight of his son.

“Brad is known for his pranks, humour and uncontrollable urge to hide your stationery at work,” he said.

Dinosaurs and DragonsSpeaking of Steve Irwin, Topics visited Zoo recently. The zoo had a brilliant replica of a dinosaur, which a real water dragon seemed very interested in.

A real water dragon hanging out with a replica dinosaur at Zoo.

Kushner gets security clearance back

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law has been granted permanent security clearance.Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and also his senior adviser, has had his security clearance restored, allowing him access to classified information after losing the privilege in the fallout over a fired White House aide.

When he joined the White House staff in January 2017, Kushner gained access to sensitive information through a temporary security clearance while the FBI conducted a background check to see if he qualified for a permanent clearance.

His temporary clearance was suspended by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in February along with other officials operating under temporary clearances, as part of measures to tighten procedures after White House staff secretary Rob Porter was fired when his two ex-wives raised charges of domestic abuse.

“With respect to the news about his permanent security clearance, as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by career officials, and went through the normal process,” said Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell.

“Having completed these processes, Mr Kushner is looking forward to continuing the work the president has asked him to do”

Kushner is leading a Trump effort to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and has been a Trump conduit to Mexico, among other activities.

It took an unusually long time for Kushner’s background check to be completed, raising questions about whether he might be in trouble in US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, attended a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Lowell, in a statement, said Kushner has cooperated fully with the investigation, including sitting for two interviews with the special counsel’s office.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Kushner was interviewed for a second time by the Mueller team in the second week of April. It lasted more than six hours.