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Comments Off on WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

Worleyparsons said it had received a “confidential, highly conditional” proposal for all its shares in November. Photo: James AlcockShares in WorleyParsons surged to a two-year high after a Dubai-based consulting group emerged with a 13.35 per cent holding and confirmed it had made an indicative bid for the engineering contractor last year but was knocked back.
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WorleyParsons confirmed on Tuesday it had received a “confidential, highly conditional indicative proposal” on November 14 from Dar Al-Handasah Consultants Shair and Partners (Dar Group) to buy all its shares for $11.80 each.

But after reviewing the proposed scheme of arrangement with its advisors, the board came to the view that it materially undervalued the company and wasn’t in the best interests of shareholders.

“The proposal was highly conditional in relation to financing, due diligence, process, regulatory and other conditions, which created significant execution risk and uncertainty for the company,” WorleyParsons said in a statement.

“The board’s view on value took into account the quality and global platform of the WorleyParsons business, the current low point in oil industry activity, the historical trajectory of previous cyclical recoveries, the cost reduction program that had not yet been fully reflected in earnings and the low operating risk profile of thr WorleyParsons business.”

Dar Group, a privately owned global network of architecture and engineering firms, said its exposure to WorleyParsons comprised of physical shares of 8.61 per cent and a cash-settled equity swap exposure of 4.74 per cent.

WorleyParsons’ shares closed 31.97 per cent higher at $10.65 on Tuesday.

It had bought the stake with a “long-term strategic perspective” and looked forward to being a “supportive shareholder”.

There had been no further discussions between Dar Group and WorleyParsons since the latter rebuffed its proposal in November and Dar Group had “no present intention of initiating discussions with WorleyParsons [over] a change of control transaction”. ​

The company last week posted a $2.4 million interim net loss – its first ever – due to declining sales, restructuring charges and late-paying government clients, sending its shares on their biggest decline in nine months.

Revenue fell to $2.7 billion from $4.2 billion, a result chief executive Andrew Wood said was “in line with market conditions and comparable with our peers in our market sectors”. It said the full impact of cost reductions and improving market conditions were not reflected in current earnings.

‘s mining contractors have been hit by a downturn in the prices of iron ore and other major commodities which has seen major resources firms curb spending.

with Reuters

Comments Off on State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

A VISITING British planning expert and the state’s chief planner have both described Newcastle as a place on the verge of great things at a planning workshop at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday.
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London-based Professor Greg Clark and NSW chief planner Gary White spoke at length about the opportunities and challenges facing Newcastle and the broader Hunter Region at the workshop, hosted by Department of Planning and Environment deputy secretary Brendan Nelson and attended by about 80 people.

On his first visitto Newcastle, Professor Clark said he was surprised by what he’d seen, compared withwhat he’d heard beforehand.

“I thought I was coming to see a city in decline, full of challenges, but when you look at all of the things that are happening right now, it’s already full of opportunities,” Professor Clark said.

Brendan Nelson, NSW Planning and Environment

Mr White, who took the top planning job in NSW after a long career in local government in Queensland, said Newcastle was in effect the opposite of Canberra. Whereas Canberra had been “planned to death, Newcastle had no metropolitan plan”.

Both men talked about a need to develop long-term plans that could be broken down into phases, and which took notice of change as it happened.

Mr White said planners had done quite well until about 10 years ago in managing cycles of change, but the big “structural disruptions” caused by digital technology were creating “change on a scale we have never seen before”.

IMPRESSED: British planning expert Greg Clark and NSW chief planner Gary White extolling Newcastle’s virtues at a workshop on the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday.

Both men said the old method of planning, where industry, residential, health, education and retail were each concentrated in their own zones was no longer working.

There were limits to what planning could achieve but a Greater Newcastle Metropolitan plan –together with a single regional voice to backit – was a necessary first step in promoting the region to governments and employers, as well as potential residents and visitors.

The workshop heardProfessor Clark would return to Newcastle later in the year as work on the metropolitan plan continued.

Asked about better rail links to Sydney, he said there was a risk they might initially suck jobs out of Newcastlebut the benefits would eventually work in both directions.

Light rail and theCBD university campus meantNewcastle was already on the path to renewal.

Comments Off on Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

WAIT OVER: Rocky Jerkic at Steel City Boxing in Hamilton North. Picture: Michael Parris n champion Rocky Jerkic will end a long and frustrating wait when he fights for the vacant Commonwealth super-welterweight title in Melbourne on Friday night.
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The Newcastle-trained boxer from Brisbane will have the chance to “open doors” to bigger fights if he overcomes unbeaten Victorian Anthony Buttigieg at The Melbourne Pavilion.

The 28-year-old mandatory challenger won a purse bid last year to host a Commonwealth title bout againstLiam Williams, but the Welshman relinquished his belt instead of travelling to .

Jerkic has a 15-0 record, including 12 knockouts, and scored a celebrated comeback win over Shannon King to win the national title in late 2015.

He has struggled to find willing opponents in since then, but trainer Rob Fogarty said a win on Friday would help establish him in the international arena.

“I don’t think Williams wanted to take the risk on an undefeated kid,” the Steel City Boxing trainer said on Tuesday before flying to Melbourne with his charge.

“No one else in wants to fight him.

“We’ve put the challenge out to Mundine, everyone, and they’ve all knocked it back.

“At least Buttigieg, you’ve got to give him props for stepping up.

“I know for a fact he’s primed, ready to go.

“This is the first guy in well over 12 months who has even put his hand up to fight Rocky.”

Fogarty said he had watched Jarrett Hurd score a ninth-round technical knockout of fellow American Tony Harrison to win the IBF super-welterweight world title last weekend at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, and said Jerkic was “definitely on a par” with both fighters.

He said Jerkic would challenge Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation champion Yutaka Oishi if he beat Buttigieg.

“Without a doubt this is the biggest fight of Rocky’s career. This will open some doors for him,” he said.

“Within 30 days we’ll know if we fight the guy in Japan or we can bring it back here.

“After that, that should put him in the top 15 in the world in the WBC.”

Buttigieg, at 171cm, is giving away 12cm in height to Jerkicbut has won all 12 of his fights, three by knockout.

He has won four of those fights by split decision, but Fogarty said Buttigieg had taken two months off work to prepare for the 12-round fight.

“He’s short, nuggety, got a walk-up style. Good defensively,” Fogarty said. “I’ve watched plenty of tape on this kid. He is strong.”

Comments Off on Weston Bears search for senior keeper ahead of inaugural Heritage Cup and 2017 NPL

Weston Bears search for senior keeper ahead of inaugural Heritage Cup and 2017 NPL

Weston Bears search for senior keeper ahead of inaugural Heritage Cup and 2017 NPL

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Andrew Goldman in goals for Charlestown against Weston in 2013. Picture: Peter StoopWESTON boss Steve Piggott may call on 39-year-old goalkeeping coach Andrew Goldman to play the opening Northern NSW National Premier League rounds after a fruitless search for a senior gloveman.
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The Bears are preparing for the inaugural Heritage Cup this Friday, Saturday and Sunday before their season-opener against Lake Macquarie at Weston Park on Sunday, March 12.

Piggott has returned to Weston, the club who sacked him after their 2014 grand final loss, to take over from Trevor Morris following the Bears’ horror 2016 season which featured just one win.

However, goalkeeper Benn Kelly, who left Maitland during Piggott’s tenure there last year, has switched from Weston to Lake Macquarie.Piggott hoped to have Tim Pratt on board again but he has withdrawn because of work commitments.The coach said he had three young keepers who were not ready for first grade.

“We’ve been looking in Sydney, the Central Coast and further afieldbut nothing’s come to fruition yet,” Piggott said.“We may have to register Andrew Goldman, the goalkeeping coach, and start with him for a couple of weeks until we sort something out.But we’ve still got one iron in the fire and we’ll have to see how it pans out.”

While the Bears have gained the likes of Brock Oakley (Maitland) andJamie Byrnes (Lambton Jaffas), Zac Sneddon has linked with Valentine, where his father, Steve, is technical director.Hejoins Nathan Morris, Garry McDermott and Robbie Turnbull as losses for the Bears. Hopes of recruiting American forward Reed McKenna have also ended. Piggott was still looking to sign more young players but was “not panicking”.

GONE: Zac Sneddon, right, playing for Weston in 2014. The utility has made a late switch to Valentine for the 2017 season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

“We’re young and inexperienced and we’ll take a few beatings and bounce back, and if we’re somewhere mid-table then I’ll be happy,” he said.“I’m happy where we are. There’s no relegation but you never want to finish at the back end, sothey are all hungry to prove themselves.”

In a strange twist to the Heritage Cup, Piggott is coach of two teams taking part. The tournamentfeatures seven first- or second-tier clubs, including Weston, whoare more than a century old. The eighth club are interdistrictside Maryland Fletcher, who are coached part-time by Piggott and representing the region’s first club, Minmi Rangers.

Weston play Cessnock City (Friday, 7.45pm), Wallsend (11am, Saturday) and Edgeworth (4pm, Saturday) in Pool A at Jack McLaughlan Oval. Adamstown, West Wallsend, Maryland Fletcher and Lake Macquarie are in Pool B at Adamstown Oval, where the decider between the pool winners will be held on Sunday at 10am.

Of the Heritage Cup, which consists of 60-minute games, Piggott said: “I like the concept but I think it should have been two or three weeks ago.

“That’s the only problem I’ve got. A week out, generally you don’t take a game or you just try to work on things you need to.

“I’ll use these games to work on some things but it’s not ideal when you are using 21 players in a weekend.

“We’re trying not to have any injuries, first and foremost, but I’ll give them all a chance to show a bit again andone final fitness test.

“I’ve used the pre-season as mainly fitness and conditioning. We’ve played better sides and they’ve all beaten us, but there’s no problems with that.

“We’ll play Edgeworth in one of the games and that will be a good yardstick for us becausewe played them five weeks ago and they beat us.

“You do your best on the day and see what comes out of it.”

Comments Off on Gloves off over Boxing Day sales

Gloves off over Boxing Day sales

Gloves off over Boxing Day sales

POPULAR: Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara (pictured) have been allowed since 2015. Picture: Marina NeilLAKE Macquarie councillors have taken a stand against Boxing Day trade, voting this week tooppose shops openingon the public holiday.
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Councillors voted nine to threein favour ofaplan –in its current form, largely symbolic –by Cr John Gilbertto“refer a notice of motion” to the Local Government NSW annual conference in December “to have Boxing Day retail trading ceased”.

It was a compromise of Cr Gilbert’s original proposal, that Lake Macquarie council “writes to every council in NSW” about lobbyingthe state governmentto end Boxing Day trade.

Cr Gilbert, of the Lake Mac Independents group, said the winat Monday’scouncil meetingwas a“first rung” in his plan to wind back Boxing Day rostering that is“smacking people everywhere”.

“At home I’ve got five teenage kids, and it just grabbed me that over Christmas they all seemed to be out working their tails off,” Cr Gilbert said.

“Once we drive this into Local Government NSW, we’re going to find out pretty quickly where the other councilsstand.”

OPPOSED: Lake Macquarie councillor John Gilbert. Picture: Marina Neil

Centres such as Westfield Kotara andCharlestown Square have openedon Boxing Daysince2015,whenthe government liftedrestrictions limitingtrade to tourist precincts and city centres.

Lake Macquarie can’treimpose those restrictions, but Cr Gilbert said enough councilsopposingBoxing Day tradewould “build momentum” to pressure state and federal legislators.

Liberal councillors voted against the Boxing Day motion, andCr Jason Pauling slammed the majority ofcouncillors for endorsing it.

“We haven’t consulted with the community at all. We haven’t spoken to anyone, let alone the thousands of people who went through Charlestown Square on Boxing Day,” Cr Pauling said.

“Council just woke up one day and decided we’re against Boxing Day trade.”

Without saying how many shoppers came to Charlestown Square last Boxing Day,a figure thought to be in the tens of thousands,general managerDwight Hodgetts said the centre“traded strongly”and set a new recordfor visitorsoverthe Christmas period.

“Shoppers in the Hunter Region have embraced the opportunity to shop at Charlestown Square on Boxing Day. It has also become a significant trading day for retailers,” Mr Hodgetts said.

“In 2016, the majority of stores were open…giving shoppers in the Hunter region the same opportunities to shop the sales as those in Sydney.”

Comments Off on You don’t have to actually work for Rupert Murdoch to make a fortune, just ask Bedi Singh

You don’t have to actually work for Rupert Murdoch to make a fortune, just ask Bedi Singh

You don’t have to actually work for Rupert Murdoch to make a fortune, just ask Bedi Singh

You don’t have to actually work for Rupert Murdoch to make a fortune. Just ask News Corp’s exiting chief financial officer, Bedi Singh.
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He will make $US10 million ($13 million) over the next three years from drawing his base salary and bonuses despite walking out the door for the last time this Wednesday.

Maybe people should have paid a little more attention when the media group announced last week that Singh will be “departing” with so little notice “to pursue new opportunities”.

These are terms used all too often when executives are being swept out the door. Not that Murdoch was sparing in his kind words for Singh.

“I asked Bedi to come back in 2012 to help get the new News Corp up and running, and he’s done a great job doing just that,” said Rupert.

And Murdoch does have a reputation for rewarding his loyal lieutenants. Rebekah Brooks’s pay-off from News Corp may have exceeded £16 million ($26 million) after she was forced to resign in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

On Tuesday, News Corp announced that it will enter into a “separation agreement” with Singh “pursuant to which Mr Singh’s employment with the company was terminated without cause”.

He will continue to receive his $US1.3 million base salary, and $US2 million in bonuses, for each of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 financial years “payable at the conclusion of the relevant period.”

That does not include stock performance units, which unlike his bonus, appear to be “at risk” and hence, actually subject to the financial performance of News Corp.

He will also receive $US495,000 payable in instalments over the next three years in lieu of his participation in the company retirement scheme, and a modest monthly consulting fee of $US12,500 for a minimum of six months.

News Corp’s n number cruncher, Susan Panuccio, will be replacing Singh, with a base salary of $US1.1 million, and annual bonus of up to $US1.1 million which kicks in for the 2018 financial year.

For the record, News Corp reported a $US219 million loss for the December quarter – thanks largely to $US537 million of writedowns on its n assets.

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Comments Off on General is in control

General is in control

General is in control

IN CONTROL: Tye Angland onboard Generalissimo, trained by Garry White, cruises home to an effortless win at Hawkesbury. Image by Bradley Photographers Hawkesbury trainer Garry White is confident of producing his first ever runner in the $400,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 1.
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But first, his promising young galloper Generalissimo must qualify in Thursday’s $150,000 heat of the Provincial series.

By running in the first three, Generalissimo will gain his ticket to the ‘big dance’ and give White his first representative in the race.

Generalissimo has started on eight occasions for three wins and a placing with over $80,000 in prizemoney. Last start he was third to Man From Uncle and Guard of Honour in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

White said Generalissimo jumped from barrier one which was a disadvantage: “We drew the fence when no-one wanted to be there as the going on the rails was not as good as two or three out and there was a bit of kick back. Under the circumstances it was a big run.

“He is a serious horse,” White said. “He doesn’t have an instant turn of foot but once he hits top speed he can maintain it for between 500m and 600m. Most other horses can sprint for only 250m to 300m.”

Generalissimo will be having his first attempt over 1400m but White believes the gelding will encounter few problems with the step up in journey.

“I trained many of the family and they are out and out sprinters but this bloke was strong at the line last start (1200m),” White said.

“I’ve always had in the back of my mind that he would be best up to 1400m and even 1600m and Tye agrees.”

Tye Angland has ridden the horse in five of his eight outings (for two wins) and will again partner Generalissimo on Thursday.

“He’s well weighted on 56 kilos for a class three horse with a benchmark of 75,” White observed.

Generalissimo was beaten at Hawkesbury when making his debut but has since won all three starts at the course.

“We have always believed he would be pretty good and he ran an excellent race in his first Stakes event when fifth (Guard of Honour) in the Heritage Stakes at Royal Randwick.

“He recorded the best sectional times in the race. Craig Williams rode him and gave us a great report after the race and said we have a very smart galloper.”

With the course likely to be rain-affected on raceday, White said Generalissimo won’t have any trouble with the going: “He is very fit and is adept in all going.

“I remember he bolted in with a barrier trial here before his debut and it was a bog track.”

White has also entered Every Chance in the Provincial Championships but is leaning to the Class 1 Handicap (1400m) on the same day.

Every Chance has won one of his seven starts, having broken through at Hawkesbury (1300m) two starts back: “He was a short-priced favourite when he won and did the job well.”

Last start Every Chance finished third to Hessdalen there over 1400m on February 21: “He had 12 days between runs and I didn’t do much with him so he may have just needed the run. He had quite a blow afterwards.

“He loves the sting out of the ground with his Hawkesbury win two starts back and his previous second at Royal Randwick both on soft going.”

This preview of the Championshipsis brought to you by Racing NSW. Mark Brassel writes for Racing NSW Magazine, racingnsw苏州夜总会招聘.au and thechampionships苏州夜总会招聘.au

Comments Off on Big knockout chance

Big knockout chance

Big knockout chance

BIG CHANCE: De La Hoya heading to the barriers in town – the chestnut is one of the prime candidates for the Country Championships Qualifier at Scone this weekend. Image by Bradley Photographers Tamworth trainer Mark Mason believes the cards are finally starting to fall the right way for his in-form galloper De La Hoya as he tackles Sunday’s $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Scone.
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De La Hoya is highly promising and naturally, is named after the former champion boxer Oscar De La Hoya, a gold medal Olympian and winner of 39 of his 45 career fights.

The horse, De La Hoya, had seven months off after an aborted campaign between March and May last year when he had three unplaced runs. This followed his previous campaign where he won two of his only three appearances with the other run being a nose defeat at Scone.

“It was just one of those preparations that nothing went right for him,” Mason recalled. “He kept drawing bad barriers (gate 10 twice and 11) and everything that could go wrong did.

“We pulled up stumps and sent him for a winter spell where he spent time in a paddock at Leon Cummins’s property in Barraba (75 minutes’ drive from Tamworth),” he said.

Cummins, a stock and station agent, is one of Mason’s main owners and doubles as president of Barraba Jockey Club for the past 22 years.

“I think the break did him the world of good. He was a little immature and needed time.”

De La Hoya has been a revelation this campaign, finishing second at Gunnedah (1000m) when first-up for 31 weeks before stringing together impressive back-to-back victories at Tamworth over 1000m and 1200m.

Last time out De La Hoya sizzled home with Robert Thompson aboard to defeat three-time winner Dan Roy by just under a length carrying the steadier of 59.5kg.

“My only query is the 1400m but Robert (Thompson) seems to think he’ll run the distance without a problem,” Mason said.

Mason will also be represented in Sunday’s Qualifier by seven-year-old Strictly Concert, a Sydney winner, and racing for the first time since last October.

The trainer had to tread a fine line with the horse due to eligibility rules: “He is close to being ineligible with 19 starts (maximum 20) so we’ve trialled him twice.

“He’s good when fresh and has won twice when first-up,” Mason said. “He has a very good finish and is strong on the line having won in the city over 1550m, so the 1400m will present no problems.”

Strictly Concert’s first trial at Tamworth over 1000m had to be seen to be believed. The gelding was giving the leader (Akeelah) a huge start coming to the bend and was still four lengths off the lead at the 200m before unwinding a big run to score.

He then ran sixth (of eight) in a Scone barrier trial (900m) but Mason said to overlook that effort: “It was a rainy day and he got well back in the field; they ran the last 600m in 32.67 seconds so he was never going to pick them up. We were still happy with his performance.”

This preview of The Championships is brought to you by Racing NSW. Mark Brassel writes for Racing NSW Magazine, racingnsw苏州夜总会招聘.au and thechampionships苏州夜总会招聘.au

Comments Off on Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Enemy combatants: Liberal Eric Abetz Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Labor MPs show off a rainbow flag. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The rainbow flag has become a symbol for the marriage equality movement.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with a rainbow flag outside Sydney Town Hall. Photo: Anna Kucera

A rainbow flag atop Victorian Parliament House last year. Photo: Penny Stephens

The Brandenburg Gate in Germany is seen with a rainbow flag projected onto it during a vigil for victims of the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting. Photo: Adam Berry

For some it’s the symbol of gay and lesbian progress and the fight for equality, but for Liberal culture warrior Eric Abetz it’s the flag of a hostile nation that has declared war on .

Bureaucrats from the Department of Finance were baffled when the former minister used Senate estimates hearings on Tuesday to ask what protocols exist for the flying of flags inside government buildings.

He said a staff member of the department had reported that a rainbow flag, associated with the LGBTIQ community and the fight for same-sex marriage, had been displayed in the Finance foyer.

Senator Abetz told department officials and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann the flag’s presence and political nature might upset some staff members. He proposed a group opposed to same-sex marriage should have similar rights.

“To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don’t.

“If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally,” he said.

“If you allow one side of the debate, then you need to allow the other side and that is why I sought to determine upfront who is responsible for making these determinations.”

A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage, Senator Abetz said the flag represented a hostile nation that had declared war on .

“This particular flag, you will realise, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, that declared war on and you Senator Cormann would understand they did the same as Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province and now this is their official flag,” Senator Abetz said.

“Of course, it is the flag of a hostile nation if we are to believe them, having declared war on . I dare say that wasn’t the reason it was flown…”

In 2004, activists said n policies for gay and lesbian citizens had caused them to plant a flag in the Coral Sea Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, naming their own nation and declaring war on .

To date, the conflict has been limited to YouTube videos from n citizen Dale Parker Anderson, who has declared himself Emperor of the tiny nation.

Senator Abetz later asked why the Israeli flag hadn’t been flown during last week’s visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Officials said the issue would be raised at a future meeting of the department’s executive board.

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Comments Off on ‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Nationals MP George Christensen. Photo: Alex EllinghausenNationals firebrand George Christensen will resign from the job of parliamentary whip, saying his “constant outspokenness” meant the position was untenable.
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But the frequent and vocal critic of the Turnbull government, said the move was not a sign he could quit the Coalition. It will also mean his pay is cut from $225,000 a year to $199,000 a year, a $26,000 salary cut.

His resignation as whip comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned his colleagues that “disunity is death”, telling them it was their duty to stick together after last week’s outburst by predecessor Tony Abbott sparked a wave of discontent and introspection.

“We have a duty to  and to our constituents to stick together, to be united,” he told a meeting of Liberal and National MPs.

“We can be proud of what we’ve done. We’ve done a lot in this Parliament and we need to keep building on that.”

The whip is meant to help enforce parliamentary discipline during votes in the House of Representatives, record votes and help determine who speaks and when during debates.

However, Mr Christensen has spoken out on a range of policy issues, including repeatedly threatening to cross the floor and back Labor’s proposal for a royal commission into the banking sector.

He has also threatened to resign from the LNP because of his unhappiness with the government’s policy agenda, in particular its failure to resolve a dispute with sugar growers in his north Queensland electorate of Dawson.

The increasingly prominent MP said he had “resigned as chief whip of the Nationals effective 5pm Thursday”.

“I realised my constant outspokenness was incompatible with the position in the long term. It was my decision alone and I wasn’t pushed. [Deputy Prime Minister] Barnaby [Joyce] was going to back me in either way,” he said.

“It doesn’t signal anything else.”

Mr Christensen’s claim that he is not poised to quit government ranks is unlikely to do much to calm the government’s nerves.

As recently as Monday evening, he told Sky News it was “possible” he could one day join One Nation.

“That’s a hypothetical, that, you know, possible, possible but, you know, I’m in the National Party and . . . I’m in the National Party today and I will be in the National Party tomorrow. I mean, you know, anything is possible.”

On other occasions, however, he has dismissed suggestions he could defect from the Liberal National Party and join Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, citing personal loyalty to Mr Joyce.

A Nationals source confirmed Mr Christensen had sat down with Mr Joyce and the pair had jointly agreed he could not continue as whip while regularly criticising his own side of politics.

“I was not pushed by anyone,” Mr Christensen said.

“However I did feel some of my colleagues may have been aggrieved that the enforcer of discipline was being somewhat ill-disciplined himself.”

Mr Joyce subsequently told Sky News that “if he was going to jump [to One Nation], he would come and say [it] to me” and the resignation was not the first step towards Mr Christensen quitting the LNP.

“I’ll ask myself the question you should ask me. Has George said to you you he might go to One nation? Have you asked if he is loyal to the Nationals party and wants to stick around with his mates in the National Party? Yes he has and yes he does want to stick around. That is really all, that’s where it resides.”

Nationals MP Damian Drum, a former minister in the Victorian state government, is tipped to be Mr Christensen’s replacement.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Party was rocked by the resignation of Senator Cory Bernardi, who moved to the crossbench and announced he planned to establish a new “n Conservatives” party.

A ReachTEL poll commissioned by the progressive Institute and released earlier this week found that the One Nation primary vote had risen to 30 per cent – equal to that of the LNP – in Dawson.

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Comments Off on Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Bangkok: Cambodia has cancelled an important counter-terrorism exercise with  as the country’s strongman Hun Sen warns he may use military force during upcoming elections.
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Mr Hun Sen has also ramped up criticism of Western nations after in January cancelling annual military exercises with the United States.

“All foreigners should understand that the Khmer [Cambodian] story should be sorted by Khmer,” he said, adding what while Cambodia needs foreign aid and business investment “I have never interfered in your international affairs.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were aimed at Western countries, particularly the US, which he accused of being hypocritical for its bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

“When you bombed on my country and you killed people, did you ever think about human rights?”

Mr Hun Sen said some have claimed he would not recognise the outcome of elections in which opposition parties are expected to poll strongly because of concerns about corruption, land grabs and lack of employment opportunities for the young.

“They predicted that in 2018 they could win, and if we don’t hand over power to them they will crush us,” he said.

“How can this happen if the troops are in my hands?”

Over three decades in power Mr Hun Sen, a former commander of the murderous Khmer Rouge, has often used force to crush his political opponents. He staged a coup in 1997 to oust his co-prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh in which dozens of people were killed.

Last weekend a senior government official declared that US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media were an inspiration to his country to observe limits on freedom of expression. He signalled a move against two radio outlets funded by the US government.

Mr Hun Sen has been presiding over a crackdown aimed at key opposition figures and parties in what critics say is a blow to hopes the country can move towards democratic rule.

The government passed legislation effectively banning anyone convicted of an offence from running for office, a move aimed at the main opposition party whose leaders have been systematically targeted in criminal prosecutions, mostly in defamation cases for comments on Facebook.

Sun Samnang, an official in Cambodia’s Ministry of Defence, told the ABC commune elections in June, national elections scheduled for 2018 and budget restraints caused the Dawn Kouprey exercises with to be cancelled.

Only two months ago Cambodia held if first major military exercise with China, which has become one of the country’s biggest aid donors.

will send $90 a million in aid to Cambodia this year, in addition to the $55 million it paid for the country to accept a handful of refugees from Nauru. That agreement has been widely criticised by the UN refugee agency, human rights and refugee groups.

Cambodian soldiers are expected to take part in a separate counter-terrorism event in  in 2018.

Comments Off on Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa David Fox in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Police with n Giuseppe Serafino (in orange prison clothes, right) and Briton David Fox, who have been arrested for allegedly possessing hashish in Bali. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino?in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Briton David Fox (left) and n Giuseppe Serafino were arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish. Photo: Supplied

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino with his lawyer Desi Widyantari at Denpasar District Court on Thursday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

An n man arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish said he didn’t know it was a “such a big crime” to use the drug in Indonesia.

Giuseppe “Joe” Serafino, 48, and former Reuters correspondent David Fox were arrested in Sanur last October for allegedly possessing 7.32 grams and 9.83 grams of hashish respectively.

Mr Serafino, who had been living in Bali for the last five years, said he felt pain, was agitated and couldn’t sleep if he didn’t use hashish, which he mixed with tobacco and smoked like a cigarette.

“I understand now that it is illegal,” Mr Serafino told the Denpasar District Court. “But in it was ok. I didn’t seek a recommendation from a doctor because I don’t speak Indonesian and didn’t know the system. I promise not to use it again.”

He said he bought the hashish for three million rupiah ($AUD300) from a man at McDonalds at Sanur. “He was wearing a helmet, so I didn’t see his face.”

Mr Serafino faces a charge of possessing category one narcotics, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years’ jail, or the lesser charge of possessing narcotics for personal use, which carries a maximum sentence of four years’ jail.

He testified that he bought hashish every three to six weeks.

He told the court he only used it himself and never gave it to anyone else. “I bought quite a lot for stock. Each time I bought it was enough for two to three weeks use. I used depending on the pain I suffered. If I used I felt relaxed, I could sleep.”

Kerobokan prison doctor Agung Hartawan said in a medical statement that Mr Serafino first started using hashish in 2007 when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.

“He was searching for ways to lessen the pain, increase his appetite and improve his sleep from the internet,” Dr Agung said.

“Because the medication he took caused him stress, he was not able to sleep, was in a bad mood and lost his appetite.”

Dr Agung said Mr Serafino sourced “ganja” (marijuana) and hashish from his friends.

“His doctor (in ) was aware of the ganja use, his doctor said to use a small amount as necessary.”

He said Mr Serafino also had back surgery in 2009 which caused him further pain.

Mr Serafino continued to use marijuana after he moved to Bali in 2011.

A friend recommended by seek rehabilitation with Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency BNN.

“But because he was busy, before he was able to consult BNN in Bali he was arrested by police,” Dr Agung said.

Police arrested Mr Serafino in his Sanur home on October 8 last year. The asked him if he had shabu shabu, the Indonesian slang term for methamphetamine, but he told them he only had hashish.

He said Mr Serafino had continued to use marijuana when he was first incarcerated in Kerobokan jail but after counselling had stopped and now used the medication Tramadol for his back pain.

“His girlfriend, friends and lawyer often visit him in prison,” Dr Agung said.

He recommended Mr Serafino have psychotherapy and rehabilitation.

“It would be best if he received comprehensive treatment – something we don’t have in prison,” Dr Agung told the court. “It would be best if he could get treatment elsewhere, like in a rehab centre.”

The court was adjourned until next week, when prosecutors will make a sentencing request.

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Comments Off on MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

What a difference a year makes. Last year, LG stole Sunday — the day of glitzy launches — at Mobile World Congress showing off their new, modular G5. But by Monday afternoon, sentiment had shifted. Once the press had a chance to play with the devices, snapping the modules on and off, reality set in. Who would really do this? Why was the camera module basically just an expensive grip? What were they thinking?
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While launching the G6 this week, Juno Cho, President of LG Mobile Entertainment had one simple sentence on the disappointing modular LG G5; “we’re still proud of that effort”. Heartbreaking. Still, we’re always told to “fail fast” in tech, so good on LG for realising its mistakes and moving on so quickly.

The G6 is a gorgeous unit, and one hell of a course correction. It’s sporting the new, tougher Gorilla Glass 5, front and back, with the back panel curved to feel a little more snug in the hand. And the front panel is nearly all screen, so despite it being a 5.7-inch display, it’s comfortable in my Trump-esque hands.

LG call the front panel a FullVision display. It has a unique 18:9 screen aspect ratio, which keeps the phone quite narrow, again helping with reach. In many respects this little mobile screen is better than my TV, supporting 2K images in Dolby Vision and HDR 10.

LG’s skin of Android is a colourful mix of pastels, showing off the new display in subtle ways. It’s a definite improvement over its previous interpretations of Android.

There’s a chamfered edge around the front panel, which gives the phone a high end look and feel, with just a tiny bit of sharpness to the grip. It’s an odd contrast to the rounded edges of the rest of the unit. Everything else is curved, right down to the rounded edges of the display.

The new flagship comes with IP68 water and dust resistance, matching the features of other flagships on the market. Having never dropped my phone in the toilet, I never thought I’d care about water resistance. But it’s allowed me to take snaps of my kid’s first trip to the beach, so now I consider it a “must have”.

The G6 sports a dual lens camera, but unlike Huawei’s P10 or the iPhone 7 Plus, the lens are independent, giving you the option of standard or wide screen shots. You won’t get any of the “fauxkeh”, or fake bokeh of those devices here.

And the G6 is the first phone after Google’s own Pixel to have the new Google assistant built in. I look forward to more handsets being blessed with Google’s assistant in the future.

There’s no word on local pricing, but history tells us to expect the LG G6 to be priced somewhere in between the mid range phones from Motorola et al, while undercutting the flagships from Apple and Samsung. If that’s the case, the LG G6 will be a fantastic deal, as it’s easily one of the best phones on display here in Barcelona.

With Blackberry and Nokia grabbing the headlines, Mobile World Congress in 2017 is fast becoming the year of the comeback. But while those brands have a more dramatic comeback story to tell, LG has the most compelling product. When the hype dies down and we all go home, the G6 is the phone I’m most interested in spending more time with.

The author travelled to MWC in Barcelona as a guest of Huawei.