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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 Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

A file photo of a samurai sword. A MAN found in possession of a large samurai sword and a sawn-off shotgun at Salt Ash has been sentenced to a maximum of 12 months in jail in Raymond Terrace Local Court.
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Shane Peter Bowling, 41, claimed to be a collector of weapons intent on repairing the firearm to its former glory.

But Bowling, of Troman Parade, Raymond Terrace, was nervous, constantly fidgeting and couldn’t stand still when police spoke to him inSalt Ash Avenue about 8.15am on December 9 last year, court documents state.

Police had received a call about a suspicious man and arrived to find Bowling standing next to a grey Holden Commodore.

The car had broken down, Bowling explained, and he didn’t want to leave it.

He had been there a few hours, he said, and had earlier been accompanied by a mate.

But when quizzed about this mystery man, Bowling couldn’t remember his name, where he lived or how long before he had left the location.

Police checked Bowling’s lengthy criminal history and saw that he had recently been spoken to about stolen property.

They assumed he was nervous, and didn’t want to leave the vehicle,because there was stolen goods hidden somewhere in the car.

But when police searched his car they found a backpack that contained a green Woolworth bag wrapped around a double-barreled shotgun.

When asked what the item was, Bowling replied: “A shotgun barrel. “It’s just a collectible. It doesn’t fire or anything. I was just going to restore it.”

Police kept searching and found a large samurai sword in the boot of the car, court documents state.

Bowling was arrested and initially refused bail by Port Stephens police due to his lengthy criminal history and the seriousness of the charges.

But after spending the day in custody, he was granted bail in Maitland Local Court on December 9.

He had pleaded guilty to possession of a shortened firearm without authority, a charge which carries a maximum of 14 years, and custody of a knife in a public place.

Bowling remained at liberty until Magistrate Caleb Franklin ruled the offences deserved a custodial sentence.

He jailed Bowling for a maximum of 12 months, with a non-parole period of eight months for the firearm offence.

Bowling will be eligible for parole on October 26.

Comments Off on Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

WINNING COMBINATION: Margan’s horticulturalist Pat Hansson with owner and restaurateur Lisa Margan.
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The Hunter Region won gold, silver and bronze at the annual Qantas n Tourism Awards in Darwin last week.

Margan Wines & Restaurant, at Broke, won the highest honour for Excellence in Food Tourism for the second time, having previously taken home gold in 2014. Sand Dune Adventures came second in theExcellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism category and Château Élan at The Vintage took home bronze for Business Events Venue.

The Qantas n Tourism Awards is the tourism industry’s premier awards event and recognises outstanding industry achievements across 25 categories. The awards draw together more than 800 tourism business representatives from across the country along with federal and state tourism ministers, CEOs of state and regional tourism bodies and tourism industry leaders.

Margan’swin was a testament to itspopularrestaurant,agri-dining focus and vineyard and wine tasting operations, as well as its food experiences which range from cooking schools tokitchengarden tours.

“It’s a privilege and honour to receivethisaward as it recognises the focus we have at Margan on delivering anexcellent food and wine experiencehere in the beautiful Hunter Valley, ‘s oldest and most visited wine region,” Lisa Margan told the Newcastle Herald.

“We give huge credit to our team at Margan who share our passion, vision andcommitmentto excellence.

“ has many quality food and wine regions, all doing great things, and these national awards are therefore very competitive. We are proud to fly the flag for NSW and for the Hunter whose food and wine scene gets better every year.”

This latest award for Margan adds to its already impressive list of accolades:SMH Good Food Guide –One Chef Hat 2016;Andrew Margan –Viticulturist of the Year 2015;Winner – Best Winery, NSW Tourism Awards Hall of Fame; Winner –Excellence in Food Tourism, NSW Tourism Awards Hall of Fame; Winner –Excellence in Food Tourism, n Tourism Awards 2014 and 2016;Winner –Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year 2013;5 Star Winery James Halliday Wine Companion 2009-2017.

The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciob MP, congratulated the 25 winners and more than 200 finalists for their dedication to ’s tourism industry.

“’s export tourism industry is now more valuable to the national economy than coal or rural exports,” he said.

“The continued passion and commitment from the hard-working ns honoured at the awards is crucial to further growth and attracting more visitors to .”

Comments Off on Ultra Swing Lounge

Ultra Swing Lounge

Ultra Swing Lounge

Theatre reviewUltra Swing Lounge
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Hunter Lifestyle, at the Civic Theatre, Newcastle

February 24 and 25

THE five years that have passed since the previous Ultra Swing Lounge show was staged have done nothing to reduce the style and pleasure of this bright and lively tribute to the swing-style musical shows that dazzled audiences in the 1930s and 40s. And while singers Daniel Stoddart and Steve Hudson, who have been with the shows since the first in 2004, joked at an early stage about putting on weight, their performances are as svelte as ever.

They and the other member of the singing trio, Rob McDougall, showed when presenting numbers such as Call Me Irresponsible and I Did It My Way just how timeless such numbers can be. And while they generally wore dinner suits, the colourful Latin American style garb they had in I Go To Rio, especially that of Stoddart, added to the amusement. Stoddart’s later red coat adornment in Mac the Knife was in line with the street delivery of the ballad in The Threepenny Opera, with two dancers as agile passers-by.

The ballroom dancers, Aric Yegudkin and Masha Belash, and Julian Caillon and Daria Walczak, added to the charm when all on stage in numbers including In the Mood, and as pairs and individuals. Tap dancer Tristan Fletcher never put a foot wrong in his pieces that included dancing to the band number Bojangles. Guest singer Amy Vee, performing with the male singers, certainly showed They Can’t Take That Away From Me. And the skills of the 22 band members, under musical director and pianist Greg Paterson, came through in the accompaniments, including McDougall’s moving I’ll Be Seeing You, which was predominantly backed by strings and piano.

Producer and director, Phil Collins, kept the show moving briskly along, with the brief comments and jokes delivered by the male vocal trio between numbers adding to the fun, and charming actions that included Hudson, accompanied by a female dancer, moving among women in the audience and handing them bunches of flowers, during the rendition of The Way You Look Tonight. Set and lighting designer Scott Travis had the stage as an elegant multi-level verandah, with two marble-like pillars on the top level and a backdrop of a starry night sky, with the colours changing to match the nature of each song.

Comments Off on Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Whitley student accommodation, Melbourne. Photo: Nick Lenaghan Renders of the new Scape student accommodation on the CUB site on Swanston Street in Melbourne Photo: Nick Lenaghan
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Booming numbers of international students coming to to study are underpinning developer enthusiasm for the accommodation projects needed to house them.

While prospective “bedspace” numbers are ramping up fast in the next couple of years, local players reckon there still won’t be enough to meet student needs.

The 7625 bedspaces delivered to the n market this year is a 65 per cent increase on last year’s total, according to research by Knight Frank.

While another 9102 bedspaces are promised in 2018 and a further 11,422 in 2019, numbers trail off after that.

But the election of Donald Trump in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK are combining to create even greater demand for ‘s university places, according to players in the space.

Scape Student Living executive director Craig Carracher has just returned from China where he found great enthusiasm for in the face of the Brexit and Trump votes in the UK and US.

“Whether it’s uncertainty in Europe, whether it’s Trump, whether it’s Brexit, is seen as a safe haven,” Mr Carracher said. “In the next year or two, we will start to see it flow through.”

The current ratio of international students to bedspaces is running at nine-to-eleven students per bed, he said.

“In the UK, it is three-to-four to one which creates some competition on prices. But if all the beds are delivered that are planned in we still wouldn’t satisfy demand.”

Recently released figures from the Department of Education and Training show the number of international students in grew by 11 per cent last year as 554,179 full-fee paying students took up places in local educational institutions.

New enrolments were up 10 percent on 2015 figures, outpacing the 10 year average of 7.1 per cent.

Chinese students made up 27.5 per cent international students, an increase of 15.7 per cent since 2015. But the fastest growing source of new international students is South America: the number of Colombian students increased 22.4 per cent to 17,190 and Brazilian student numbers grew by 19.6 per cent to 29,440.

More than half (57 per cent) of student accommodation projects have opened in Melbourne, where Knight Frank director Paul Savitz said it is easier to find the sites.

“I’m fielding a lot of queries from overseas groups looking to come into the market. A big European group was in town last week and another group is coming next week,” Mr Savitz said.

“A lot of groups are looking in Sydney but it’s very, very difficult to get sites. The residential and office markets are so hot especially in areas where student accommodation providers want to be – railway stations especially,” he said.

“That’s why they’re focusing on Melbourne.”

Mr Carracher said Scape, which has $1 billion of projects in the pipeline for Melbourne alone, said overseas players would need to partner with locals to understand the domestic market.

“They’re coming to look at the market but they’re not executing deals,” he said.

His group is backed by European and Asian investors and has $1 billion worth of projects underway. Brisbane-based Blue Sky has a pipeline of 3000 beds in a joint venture with Goldman Sachs.

“There’s a whole range of considerations that apply to students and this market has different states, different insurance, different universities and different rules in every city.”

As the new academic year gets underway, industry focus is on acquiring new sites and getting up new projects but the outcome of the Campus Living Village’s 40,000 bed portfolio sale remains a hot topic.

The portfolio, expected to fetch around $2 billion, includes 70 properties in the UK, USA and and is regarded as a very complex acquisition.

And even CLV is looking at the future. A spokesperson said, “At the moment we are not building in but we are looking closely with our university partners. It’s a very buoyant and exciting market.”

Comments Off on Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Earnings from extensive property holdings spiked 91 per cent, largely from revaluations. Photo: Scott BarbourHarvey Norman’s $2.6 billion property portfolio continues to underpin the group’s profitability, generating a $75.74 million value uplift and another $71 million in income.
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The retail giant’s record half-year results show runaway property values and blistering summer weather helped drive its total profits from property, furniture and whitegoods 39 per cent higher to $257.29 million.

While the retailer is best known for its sprawling electronics and furniture stores, its earnings from its extensive property holdings spiked 91 per cent, largely from the revaluations.

Without contributions from revaluations, the retailer’s profit after tax was up 19.7 per cent to $204.27 million off the back of franchise sales, which grew 5.2 per cent to $2.86 billion.

The result reflected strong retail spending in NSW and Victoria as well as the “wealth effect” of higher house prices and hot weather along the eastern seaboard powering sales of airconditioning units.

Billionaire retailer and chair Gerry Harvey said revaluations would push up to $3 billion in the near future.

Mr Harvey would not provide any details on exactly how many of the Harvey Norman stores are owned by the group, except to say an “awful lot”.

Mr Harvey rejected suggestions the business had purchased any of the former Masters sites.

“We had a look at all of them and but we haven’t got any interest in any of them. For good reason, they are not in the right areas or we have stores nearby,” Mr Harvey said.

The Harvey Norman property empire spans 238 stores in and 85 shops in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Croatia and Ireland.

The large-format, multi-tenanted Harvey Norman franchise stores, along with a diverse mix of third-party tenants, accounted for nearly half the group’s earnings – 54 per cent of its total asset base and about 40 per cent of profits before tax.

At each reporting period, one-sixth of Harvey Norman’s investment property portfolio are independently valued, while the remaining five-sixths are reviewed for fair value by the directors.

The entire portfolio is independently valued every three years, the group said.

The retailer said there was no further write-down on its mining camp investments, although it booked a $4.62 million impairment loss on the project.

Over the previous two periods the group has become another casualty of the fading mining boom, writing off $13.2 million from its initial $60 million investment in building transportable accommodation units or “dongas” to house mining camps in remote parts of .

The joint venture between Mr Harvey and unnamed partners ploughed large sums into the dongas just as the resources boom was ending.

Another of Mr Harvey’s pet projects, a 49.9 per cent investment in Victorian dairy farm and pedigree breeding operation, Coomboona Holdings, also racked up losses of $3.26 million for the half year.

In the previous corresponding period its losses were $1.79 million.

Future growth is expected to come from Harvey Norman’s overseas network as well as its new start-up ventures including the fledgling School Locker business in .

Harvey Norman has recently acquired a property in Dublin and plans to open a signature store there in the next few months and Mr Harvey said the Singapore-Malaysia market could support as many as 30 more stores.

Comments Off on Pay fight could mean series-by-series contracts for cricketers

Pay fight could mean series-by-series contracts for cricketers

Pay fight could mean series-by-series contracts for cricketers

ACA president Greg Dyer is going into bat for ‘s leading cricketers. Photo: Karen Steains’s top cricketers may have to contemplate signing temporary series-by-series contracts should they decide to spurn a new revenue model Cricket remains determined to introduce.
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Cricket and the n Cricketers Association remain at loggerheads during discussions over an updated memorandum of understanding, with the players still frustrated by CA’s refusal to hand over figures detailing the sport’s revenue platforms.

It’s understood CA is set to officially table their MOU offer within weeks, meaning the elite players will need to take a firm stand on whether they really do oppose their Sheffield Shield brethren being locked out of a proposed new revenue sharing model.

As it stands, the international players remain opposed to CA’s plan to have only CA-contracted players share in the percentage revenue model used since 1998. But what is dangling before them is the lucrative opportunity, according to CA’s initial submission, to “earn a higher share of financial returns instead of a lower share of revenue, as they earn in the current MOU”.

The average international retainer this season was $703,000, but skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc pocket more than $2 million when their heightened retainers, tour and match fees and prizemoney are included.

The current MOU expires on June 30, just weeks after the revamped Champions Trophy is held in England.

‘s next series after that is the yet-to-be confirmed tour of Bangladesh from early August, where two Tests and three one-day internationals have been slated, pending safety and security clearance.

Should that tour be given the go ahead, one player source raised the question whether players would be prepared to boycott the trip should a pay offer be unacceptable. Such a move would hurt CA in terms of broadcast rights.

The Southern Stars could also have a major decision to make, given a World Cup in England will be held in July.

Another option would be for CA and the ACA to at least have an in-principle agreement on the fundamental planks of the new MOU, although this time the core plank – the set percentage model for players of all levels – is what is at stake.

In an opinion piece published by Fairfax Media on Tuesday, ACA president Greg Dyer wrote that all players were unified in ensuring domestic male players be included in the revenue-sharing model.

He said a new philosophy had emerged at CA: “A new language of ‘control’ in which increasingly the players seem to be regarded as cost centres or not generating enough return on investment.

“To view Sheffield Shield cricket and the players who play it, the traditional powerhouse of n cricket, in this manner is particularly grating.”

CA did not wish to respond publicly to Dyer’s comments. In its initial submission, CA said state men’s retainers have grown by more than 50 per cent in the past four years, averaging $234,000 this season.

“Maintaining a revenue share model that provides additional income beyond domestic men’s payments would compromise resource allocation to other areas of n cricket,” CA said.

Under CA’s plan, state-based players would be paid from a lump sum, with any major increase to be “driven” by Big Bash League payments.

CA will also need to deliver a satisfactory deal for women, with Dyer adamant they be included in a revenue-sharing model. CA says the pay and benefits for the Southern Stars players would “significantly increase” under its plan but has so far excluded them from sharing in a percentage model.

Comments Off on George Christensen will miss his whip now he’s quitting as Nationals whip

George Christensen will miss his whip now he’s quitting as Nationals whip

George Christensen will miss his whip now he’s quitting as Nationals whip

George Christensen pictured for Good Weekend. Photo: Andrew MearesGeorge has been loose in the top paddock for a while now.
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Free-range, you might call him.

That he’s been the very fellow, however, whose job was to round up oddballs just like him and give them a touch of the lash unless they fall into line apparently didn’t occur to anyone in The Nationals as peculiar.

Well, it wouldn’t, would it? Barnaby Joyce, after all, is the actual leader of The Nationals.

George Christensen is a bit special, of course.

No one else in Parliament, surely, wears a giant full-colour tattoo of the Madonna and Child on his giant upper arm (he got it at a place called Mad Monk Tattoo, no relation to an Abbott).

It seems unlikely anyone else on the backbench who once wanted to become a Catholic priest has converted to the Antiochian Orthodox Church because the Catholics aren’t conservative enough, either. But there it is.

You’d imagine George is going to miss his whip now that he’s quitting as whip.

You read that right.

He fairly rejoiced in carrying around an actual stockwhip during his period as whip of The Nationals, the job that required him to exert on his colleagues the sort of discipline that he would never impose upon himself.

When he posed with his whip for a profile by Matthew Knott in Fairfax Media’s Good Weekend late last year, the picture very nearly broke the internet.

Comedian Magda Szubanski tweeted that “I know what my next film role is! I will play George Christensen in bio-pic of his life as a closet S&M lesbian.” George chose that as his favourite response to the photo. True story.

This then, is the man who stands between Malcolm Turnbull holding government by a sliver and finding himself astride a hung Parliament.

Yes, indeed. The bloke with the Mad Monk Tattoo of the Madonna and Child and the stockwhip could bring down a government if he hoofed it out of the Queensland Liberal National Party and stood as an independent, like his fellow Trumpist Cory Bernardi, or worse, joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, which often seems to be his natural home.

But he says he’s going nowhere, and so does Barnaby.

You’d have to believe them.

George, if he quit this nervy-as-a-horse government, could never hope to gain more attention or be granted such wild privilege elsewhere.

He might behave as if he’s loose in the top paddock, but he’s perfectly content out there on the free range, even without a whip.

Comments Off on ‘I feel sorry for her’: China Post boss Ahmed Fahour slams Pauline Hanson over religion innuendo

‘I feel sorry for her’: China Post boss Ahmed Fahour slams Pauline Hanson over religion innuendo

‘I feel sorry for her’: China Post boss Ahmed Fahour slams Pauline Hanson over religion innuendo

Ahmed Fahour outgoing MD and CEO of Post appears before Senate estimates. Photo: Andrew MearesOutgoing Post managing director Ahmed Fahour has lashed out at One Nation leader Pauline Hanson for her “ill-informed” and “hurtful” comments about his Islamic faith at his final appearance before Senate estimates hearings.
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Mr Fahour and Post chairman John Stanhope fielded many questions on Tuesday about Mr Fahour’s controversial $5.6 million salary and why Post tried to keep it secret.

Senator Hanson was one of the loudest critics of Mr Fahour’s salary and reacted gleefully to his announcement last week that he would resign, saying the news was “fantastic”.

“I’m still on the floor of Parliament, you’re unemployed, let’s hope you’re not going to get in the queues for employment,” she said in a Facebook message.

Ms Hanson later said: “I do have a problem with his religion if he’s actually a fundamentalist and follows the Koran to the letter, which I think denigrates women.”

Under questioning from Greens leader Richard Di Natale, Mr Fahour said Senator Hanson’s comments were “ill-informed” and that his faith was a private matter.

“I felt really sad for the Senator that she would descend to that level of commentary,” he said.

Mr Fahour, who was born in Lebanon, said her comments were “quite hurtful” to his wife and four children.

“We came here legitimately, we assimilated, and we love being in this country,” he said.

“I love this country so much.

“I feel sorry for Senator Hanson that she feels the need to say those things about someone whose 100 per cent objective is to do the right thing for the country . . . It’s with a very heavy heart I hear those comments and think how sad it is.”

Mr Fahour contrasted Senator Hanson with the other “honorable, decent and caring” senators from all parties who had questioned him over the years at Senate hearings.

Neither Ms Hanson nor any other One Nation senators have attended Tuesday’s hearings to ask questions of Mr Fahour.

When announcing his resignation last week, Mr Fahour took a swipe at Senator Hanson by saying Post was a considerably more complex business to run than a fish and chip shop.

Mr Stanhope admitted it was a mistake for Post not to disclose Mr Fahour’s salary for 2015 and 2016 – even though new rules implemented by the government allowed the company to keep it secret.

Post has now published a detailed breakdown of its executive pay on its website.

Mr Stanhope defended Mr Fahour’s salary although he acknowledged it was now “inconsistent with community expectations”.

“We need our salary packages to be commercially competitive to attract and retain talented people in a competitive, executive talent market,” he said.

Mr Stanhope said Post faced a “dilemma” because the salary of its chief executive will now be set by the independent Remuneration Tribunal.

Only time will tell if the salary is set at a high enough level to attract the talent the company needs, he said.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said he was not aware of Mr Fahour’s salary until it was revealed earlier this month, though he did know Mr Fahour was “well remunerated”.

Mr Stanhope said Malcolm Turnbull had raised concerns about Mr Fahour’s salary early in his tenure as communications minister and that he had explained why he felt the remuneration was appropriate.

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Comments Off on Man arrested on terror offences after raids in NSW town

Man arrested on terror offences after raids in NSW town

Man arrested on terror offences after raids in NSW town

The property in Young, NSW, being searched by the n Federal Police on Tuesday. Photo: Rebecca Hewson An AFP van at a property in Young where a man was arrested over foreign incursion offences. Photo: n Federal Police
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Police at the Young property. Photo: Nine News

Michael Keenan, Malcolm Turnbull and AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin address the media. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Turnbull said the arrest highlights the need for vigilance. Photo: Andrew Meares

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the alleged offence was “fairly sophisticated and well-planned”. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Zahab appears at Young court. Photo: Nine News

The extended family of an electrician who allegedly wanted to help the Islamic State with missile detection technology was already on the police radar for funding an arms racket linked to the terrorist group.

Haisem Zahab was arrested on Tuesday at his property in Young in NSW’s south-west, for allegedly attempting to research and design a laser warning device and missiles for IS over the internet.

The 42-year-old had been under investigation for 18 months as part of the n Federal Police’s Operation Marksburg.

The operation, focusing on the extended Zahab family, involved seizing $530,000 from the sale of a Condell Park home last year split into several accounts and travel debit cards belonging to four family members.

The home owner and Mr Zahab’s cousin, Hicham Zahab, didn’t fight the AFP’s proceeds of crime proceedings as he had fled to Syria with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. He is wanted by the Kuwaiti government for his suspected involvement in the Islamic State arms smuggling cell.

The AFP allege the money from the sale was going to be used to fund an Islamic State arms racket.

About half of the money from the sale was seized with the rest believed to have already been sent to the Middle East.

In its latest annual report, the AFP said Operation Marksburg was an investigation “into a family based in New South Wales that was suspected of travelling to Syria to become members of, and provide support to, Islamic State”

“At the start of the investigation it was identified that family members had access to a significant amount of funds in an n bank account and were suspected of using international travel cards and a computer consulting company based in the Middle East to remit funds out of for the use and benefit of Islamic State in Syria,” the report stated.

“These funds were acquired from the sale of their former family residence located in Sydney.”

Mr Zahab did not apply for bail when he appeared before Young Local Court on Tuesday afternoon and it was formally refused. He will face court in Parramatta on March 8.

He is charged with serious foreign incursion offences which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said Mr Zahab allegedly used the internet to research and design a laser warning device to help warn against incoming missiles used by coalition forces in Syria and Iraq.

“We will also allege that he has been researching, designing and modelling systems to assist ISIL’s efforts to develop their own long-range guided missile capabilities,” he said.

Mr Colvin said the alleged advice given by the “technically-trained” man was “fairly sophisticated and well-planned”.

“We will be alleging that the material that he was intending to provide to ISIL, the research he was doing, was credible,” he said.

Dozens of officers descended on his semi-rural property in Cherry Vale Place early on Tuesday morning to execute search warrants before he was arrested. It is alleged Mr Zahab acted alone and no further arrests are expected.

Some officers were seen to use metal detectors to search the ground at his home. Others dug into the ground with picks while a NSW Police officer from the dog squad stood nearby.

The electrician divided his time between Young and Sydney, where it is understood he had a business in the past that designed and installed solar panels.

Business records show the 42-year-old was the director of a company called Switch2Green, which was based in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona before it was de-registered in 2013.

Mr Zahab then registered another business, Oz Survival Gear, in November 2013. It sells knives, multi-tools and flashlights online from his home in Young. The AFP has arrested a man in NSW in relation to alleged terrorism offences. More details soon. #[email protected]— Michael Keenan MP (@MichaelKeenanMP) February 28, 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the arrest of Mr Zahab highlighted a need for ns to remain vigilant.

“This highlights that terrorism, support for terrorist groups and Islamist extremism is not limited to our major cities,” he told a briefing at Parliament House in Canberra.

“This is yet another example of the excellent work the men and women of the n Federal Police and all our security agencies are doing in identifying and disrupting alleged assistance to ISIL.” with The Young Witness

Comments Off on Tempting weight for world champion sprinter Chautauqua

Tempting weight for world champion sprinter Chautauqua

Tempting weight for world champion sprinter Chautauqua

Dwayne Dunn aboard Chautauqua. Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesThe Racing Victoria handicapping department have given outstanding sprinter Chautauqua a weight in Saturday week’s $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap that could well help reignite the horse’s profile as the world’s finest sprinter.
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If connections choose to start Chautauqua in ‘s most revered sprinting handicap event, with his weight of 58 kilograms, it would be the grey’s third attempt at winning the 1200m group 1 sprint.

A decision on the sprinter’s future will be determined in the next 24 hours as the stable are also weighing up their options which include a start in Saturday’s group 1 Canterbury Stakes at weight-for-age at Randwick.

Managing part-owner Rupert Legh said that he expected a final decision some time on Tuesday after they digest the handicapper’s allotment of 58kg to Chautauqua.

Lee said that he felt the 58kg the horse was given was “fair” as it was the same weight the horse carried into third place last year, but admitted that they were tempted at a Canterbury Stakes start.

It would mean that if Chautauqua was to miss the Newmarket Handicap, he could possibly be pitted against the all-conquering Winx in the George Ryder Stakes in three weeks’ time.

A Newmarket victory has eluded Chautauqua who has run second and third in past races and would become only the fourth horse in the past 50 years to win the race carrying 58kg.

If Chautauqua can lump 58kg to victory in the group 1 sprint he joins the likes of Hay List, Black Caviar and Shaftesbury Avenue who are the only three horses in Newmarket history to win with such an impost.

Lightning Stakes winner Terravista will carry 56.5kg in the race but if Chautauqua does go to Sydney all weights will be raised 0.5kg as the Newmarket scale demands a minimum 57kg top weight.

One of the unlucky gallopers in the Lightning Stakes, Spieth, will carry 55kg, a 1.5kg advantage over Terravista from the Lightning Stakes.

RVL handicapper David Hagen maintained that Chautauqua had earned its place at the top of the weights considering his amazing wins on the Hong Kong Chairman’s Sprint, the TJ Smith Stakes and the 2016 Lightning Stakes.

“Chautauqua’s 2016 ranking as the world’s best sprinter naturally earns him his place at the top of the weights in a race that looks to be highly competitive with nine individual group 1 winners among the entries,” Hagen said.

“His (Chautauqua’s) record at the 1200m trip is just exceptional having won four group 1 races at the distance and he has never missed a place in eight starts down the Flemington straight. A repeat of any of his three group 1 wins last year would see him be the horse to beat again with a top weight of 58kg.”

And last year’s Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback will go into the race fresh after missing a start in the Lightning Stakes last month.

The Quarterback trialled convincingly on Monday at Cranbourne with the sprinter’s barrier certificate being renewed after he became cast in the stalls minutes prior to the Lightning Stakes.

The Quarterback will have to become the first horse since 1917 to win one of ‘s most famous sprint races first up from a spell.

Top line three-year-old Flying Artie, Extreme Choice and Star Turn make up an extremely smart group of young sprinters that could emulate Brazen Beau’s victory in 2015.

While Craig Williams will ride Star Turn it is expected that world-class jockey Joao Moreira will be in Melbourne to take the mount on Flying Artie.

“Three-year-old’s boast an imposing record in the Newmarket Handicap, having won nine of the last 20 editions of the race and this year’s crop looks to be up to the benchmark of recent years,” Hagen said.