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Palfreeman jail transfer refused

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JOCK PALFREEMANNEWCASTLE pathologist Simon Palfreeman called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene yesterday after his son, jailed for 20 years for murder in Bulgaria, was refused transfer to an Australian prison.
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Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor denied on Tuesday night an official request from Australia to transfer Jock Palfreeman to an Australian jail to serve the remainder of his murder sentence.

DISTANT HOPE: Helen and Simon Palfreeman hope to get Simon’s son Jock, inset, transferred to Australia from a Bulgarian prison.

The 26-year-old, who has always claimed he acted in self defence, was sentenced in December 2009 for the stabbing death of 20-year-old Andrey Monov, and for wounding another man in a drunken street brawl in the capital Sofia.

Palfreeman pleaded not guilty but lost the case twice on appeal, and Bulgaria’s Supreme Court upheld his sentence in July 2011.

Dr Palfreeman urged Mr Rudd yesterday to call his Bulgarian counterpart.

“Mr Rudd was aware of Jock and was sympathetic to what was happening to Jock and his family when he was foreign minister,” he said.

“I think now as Prime Minister I think probably it would be very helpful if there was some direct involvement from Mr Rudd and [Foreign Minister Bob] Carr.”

Senator Carr said he was disappointed that Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor had knocked back Australia’s official request for Palfreeman’s transfer.

He said the government was exploring whether the decision could be appealed.

“Jock and his family will be understandably very disappointed by the prosecutor-general’s decision,” he said.

“The Australian government will however examine whether options exist to have the matter reconsidered.”

In justifying his decision, the prosecutor said Palfreeman had served “limited” time in jail and had been “repeatedly sanctioned” for bad behaviour by prison authorities.

Dr Palfreeman said his son’s behaviour in prison had been “exemplary under extreme provocation” and accused Bulgarian authorities of being “capricious” and “vindictive”.

Palfreeman claimed he got into the brawl after trying to save two gypsies who were being beaten by a gang of local youths, but the appeal court rejected his version of events.

Bulgaria’s leading human rights group, the Bulgaria Helsinki Committee, condemned the decision to refuse the transfer.

“To me the refusal looks as a vindictive action from the chief prosecutor, which has nothing to do with the rule of law,” committee president Krassimir Kanev said.

Dr Kanev said the dead man’s father, who is now a government MP, has vowed to prevent Palfreeman from returning home and wanted his sentence increased to life in prison.

with AAP

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DJ has ‘strong case’ in lawsuit against station

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”Royal hoax” DJ Mel Greig could get a ”six or seven figure payout” from 2Day FM, legal experts have told Fairfax Media.
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Senior lawyers from Nowicki Carbone said the station appeared to have been ”playing with fire” by encouraging questionable stunts – and that Greig has a ”very strong case” against her employer.

Greig has accused 2Day FM’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, of ”failing to provide a safe workplace”.

She has made a general protections application with Fair Work Australia and sources say she wants to terminate her employment with Austereo, despite the company offering her several jobs over the past six months.

Greig has been off air since British nurse Jacintha Saldanha killed herself in December.

She and co-host Michael Christian duped Saldanha into believing they were the Queen and Prince Charles. Saldanha transferred their call to another nurse, who divulged private information about Kate Middleton.

Nowicki Carbone managing partner Anthony Carbone said Greig was clever in making her claim as a general protections application.

”There’s no limit on damages with general protections,” Carbone said, ”It’s underutilised in Australia because lawyers don’t understand it.”

He said Greig would probably need to be prove she had suffered a diagnosable psychological injury as a result of the prank call incident – but not that Saldanha’s suicide was forseeable.

The amount Greig is claiming could comprise medical expenses, loss of future income and damages.

”Mel might argue that her earnings have been affected by what’s happened, so she could claim the gap in earnings for the forseeable future,” Carbone said. ”And the judge could turn around and say, ‘I’m also going to give you an amount for pain and suffering.

”All up, it could come to six figures or even seven figures.”

Carbone said Austereo’s long rap sheet – which includes tricking listeners into believing a popular presenter had died, a stunt police claim encouraged dangerous driving and the notorious lie detector scandal – could bolster Greig’s claim.

”It goes to the heart of what kind of workplace Mel was working in,” he said. ”Did Austereo condone and encourage the pranks? Did they promote bad conduct?

”This doesn’t seem to have been a one-off thing; it seems to have been on-going.

”I mean, getting on the radio and pretending that someone is dead – who does that?”

Whether 2Day FM broke the law by recording and broadcasting the prank call without permission is also relevant, he said.

”They’re fostering a culture which is questionable at best. At worst, it appears they’re encouraging what could be illegal behaviour.”

The first step in Greig’s claim is a conciliation meeting, likely to occur in September. If this fails, the matter will go to court.

Carbone said Austereo will do everything it can to resolve the dispute early.

”They probably won’t want their practices and procedures exposed,” he said. ”They might want to avoid people asking, ‘Who okayed this prank call? What discussions did you have about the potential risks?”’

Carbone said Austereo’s defence will rest on the protocols it had in place at the time of the prank call and its ability to demonstrate ”how seriously it takes the welfare of its staff”.

Austereo and Greig have refused to comment.

While Greig has not returned to work since the tragedy, her co-host Michael Christian resumed his duties earlier this year and was controversially named the network’s “top jock” in June.

In April, Greig revealed she would give evidence at the UK inquest into Saldanha’s suicide. It is not known if she will appear personally or make a statement via video link.

Her legal action comes as Austereo awaits a decision from the Federal Court about the authority of the broadcasting watchdog.

Austereo claims the Australian Communications and Media Authority has no power to determine if it broke the law by recording and broadcasting the hoax phone call without permission.

If the Federal Court finds in ACMA’s favour, 2Day FM faces a hefty penalty from the regulator. Its most likely punishment is a licence suspension, meaning the station will be pulled off the airwaves temporarily.

People seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Home to Summer Bay

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Familiar: Kate Ritchie as Sally Fletcher today.First there were the fluoro tops, pigtails, and imaginary friends. Then the awkward teen years — clandestine pashes behind the bike sheds, inappropriate boyfriends (including one played by Heath Ledger), plenty of angst. And of course that puffy white wedding dress.
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No one would blame Kate Ritchie for wanting to slam the door shut on her years spent on Home and Away. Many would understand if she wanted to ”do a Melissa George” and write it off as an embarrassing life experience.

But five years after leaving Summer Bay, Ritchie is returning to the show she starred on for 20 years to reprise her role as Sally Fletcher in a guest stint.

The question is: why?

”Look, it sounds really simple, but it was just lovely,” she says. ”It’s a job that I absolutely loved. So it was so nice to be back on set, back on location in a place that I know so well, surrounded by lots of people I’ve known for many years.”

Ritchie admits it was a strange sensation stepping back onto such familiar ground for the first time in five years.

”It was a mixture of feelings,” she says. ”I was excited to be back, but it did feel a little bit strange. I was back on set and, in essence, doing the same job I have done before, but all this time had passed and so much had happened since I left.

”It felt strange. There were so many familiar things about it, but then there was so much about it that was different – perhaps because I was different, and I was seeing things with different eyes.”

Ritchie left Home and Away in 2008. At the time it was a tough decision, but the big, bad world was calling and opportunity knocked. She went on to have mixed success with roles in Underbelly, the short-lived Cops L.A.C., plus a stint co-hosting breakfast radio alongside Merrick and Rosso. She’ll also soon be seen on Peter Helliar’s new ABC series, It’s a Date.

Ritchie admits she was shocked when Home and Away producers came calling once more.

”I received a phone call from my manager one day saying, ‘You’re never going to believe this but I’ve just been on the phone with Home and Away’,” she says. ”I was like, ‘What?’ A return was something I had never considered. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time there, it was just that it had been a job that I had finally found the courage to leave, and five years had passed. It caught me off guard, to be honest. I thought, ‘Goodness, what do I think of this?’

”Of course the obvious things were, ‘Wow, isn’t it lovely that they would like me to come back’, and ‘Isn’t it great that Home and Away is celebrating 25 years’, which is part of the reason the phone call came,” Ritchie says.

What followed was a period of deliberation. ”I spent a little while thinking about it — probably overthinking it — wondering if a return would be a good idea or a bad idea, and what people would think about it,” Ritchie says.

”Then I realised that I should stop worrying about everything and just remember that it was a job I loved. And the whole point of working in this industry is that we do continue to work, and it would be crazy for me to decline.”

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Ritchie decided not to up stumps after her exit and move to LA, continuing to base herself in Australia where she lives in Sydney with her husband of three years, Stuart Webb. It wasn’t too much of a stretch, then, to jump in her car and make that familiar drive out to Palm Beach, where Home and Away is filmed.

She figured that instead of distancing herself from Sally, she may as well embrace her — and what better way than a quick trip back to the Bay?

”If I had tried to forget her, I wouldn’t be acknowledging a great deal of who I am. Leaving Home and Away, a lot of it was about trying to work out who I was without this character, and without the show, and without the security.

”I’ve realised that you can move on and do other things, but you can still appreciate where you’ve been.”

The opening scenes of her first episode back see Sally ride into town in a convertible, daughter Pippa (Piper Morrissey) in tow.

”There’s a great deal of me in Sally Fletcher, and a great deal of [her] in me. I think there’s nothing I can do about that,” Ritchie says. ”There’s no point me fighting it.”

Home and Away, Monday to Thursday, Channel Seven, 7pm. (Ritchie returns Monday).

Growing up on the box

The transition from child star to respected adult actor isn’t something many performers achieve. Kate Ritchie is the exception.

Not only has she managed a career post-Home and Away, she’s actually turned out to be – shock, horror – a normal person.

Ritchie says this may have something to do with her motivations for becoming an actor.

”What I did was a hobby for many years and I did it because I loved it, not because I wanted to work in television,” she explains.

”Nor did I want to be famous. As I kid I wanted to do it because it was fun — and because I got to hang out with Alex Papps [the teen heart-throb, now Play School presenter, who played Frank in the first season].”

Everything since has been a bonus.

”As I’ve grown the things that have unfolded, all the attention and the accolades, they’ve not been something I have sought,” she says.

And the flipside of that fame? The constant focus on her personal life, the is-she-isn’t-she speculation of a baby on the way, the analysis of her every move including this one back to Summer Bay that some have said is proof she couldn’t make it anywhere else.

”It doesn’t always sit well with me, but that’s the way it is,” Ritchie says. ”I can either give it a lot of my energy, or I can accept that it’s also part of the job.

”I want to share as much as I possibly can, but I also have no intention of giving everything. I love that the little old lady in the supermarket stops me and grabs my hand and tells me how wonderful it is to see me grow into such a lovely woman. I also love flicking through our wedding book knowing those photos only I and [my husband] Stuart have seen.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

O’Brien expected to return for GC

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Collingwood vice-captain Scott Pendlebury expects Harry O’Brien to return to the team against Gold Coast on July 20.
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As O’Brien continues counselling for his personal “demons”, the Magpies are hopeful he can train strongly and reclaim his spot in a side rejuvenated after the win over Carlton.

O’Brien was one of the Magpies’ best players this season before his sudden departure over a blow-up in a team meeting days after the loss to Port Adelaide.

“He has a week of training and, hopefully, that Gold Coast game he can get back,” Pendlebury said. “If he’s not ready, he’s not ready and we’ll welcome him back when the time is right.

“He did about three-quarters of the session yesterday and trained really well. It’s just a matter of time before he gets back in the senior side. When the doc and coach believe he’s ready, he’ll come back in.”

Fairfax reported on Wednesday police want to interview O’Brien over his comments he could identify the person he saw shoot dead a man in Brazil. O’Brien has said he fears for his life after witnessing the shooting in a Rio de Janeiro slum in 2011.

Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said: “We’ll probably have a talk to the football club and see if there’s anything that we can help with or understand that better.”

But he confirmed Brazilian investigators had not been in touch.

O’Brien, contracted until the end of next season, says he is battling issues from “suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing who murdered that person and not being able to say anything because that person would probably murder you”.

AFL Players Association boss Matt Finnis said O’Brien would be given the support he needed.

He said the Magpies and the premiership defender would also find the right balance between treatment and his playing duties.

“These are difficult circumstances but I heard Nathan Buckley speak yesterday. I think we got an insight into Nathan’s respect for Harry as an individual but also the balance of how he maintains the professional standards of that football club,” Finnis said.

“I think all workplaces juggle to deal with that but I think you’ll see Collingwood work through that over the coming weeks.”

Collingwood has made it clear its focus must return to club matters.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Mowbray site gets a second chance

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Intaj Khan says there is a demand in Melbourne’s west for a multicultural school. Photo: Michael CoppA year after Mowbray College imploded with debts of $28 million, self-made millionaire Intaj Khan has applied to open a private primary school at one of its campuses.
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Mr Khan, a Wyndham councillor, hopes the first prep class of West Melbourne Grammar School will start in 2014 at the Caroline Springs campus he bought for $6.7 million last year.

He had intended to offer courses in building and construction at the site, similar to those at his Western Institute of Technology.

But after speaking to parents and examining census data pointing to the need for more primary schools in the booming western suburbs, Mr Khan last month lodged an application for a new secular independent school with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority.

“There are not many grammar schools in the west . . . there is a big demand from people who would like to send their kids to a multicultural school that is not dominated by one religion,” the father of five said.

The proposed logo for the school is Noli desistere discere, which Mr Khan says is Latin for “Never stop learning”.

He learnt from the mistakes of the former board of Mowbray College, which collapsed in June last year, leaving about 1200 students and 200 staff without a school.

Mr Khan says Mowbray College grew too quickly and expanded to three campuses before it was financially viable. “We want to make sure that won’t happen again.”

West Melbourne Grammar would be funded by a trust, West Melbourne Education, run by a board of experts, including himself, an accountant and a former associate professor from Victoria University.

While Mr Khan acknowledged parents had expressed a desire for a secondary school, he wanted to start conservatively, with a prep class in 2014, expanding to a prep to year 6 school by 2020.

“Starting with a secondary school could jeopardise our business plan – there is no guarantee we would receive the enrolments,” he said. “Starting from prep the expenses are less and the community can embrace the culture.”

Mr Khan’s three-year-old son Wildan will be the first student enrolled. “If you are going to make a sandwich, you have to eat it before you give it to other people,” he says.

West Melbourne Grammar is seeking expressions of interest for 2014 prep enrolments at [email protected]南京夜网

How the story developed:

May 2012:No more cash for stricken school: Baillieu

June 2012:Debt-ridden college to closeFinal stand at ‘For Sale’ Mowbray

June 2013:Former director testifiesChairman believed school was solvent

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Children of single parents disadvantaged for longer

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Children growing up in single parent families are one of the groups most likely to face ongoing and entrenched disadvantage, a new report warns.
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Just under 9 per cent of children aged under 10 years who had lived with a single parent experienced poverty for between six and 10 years, a report by the Productivity Commission says.

Only 2 per cent of children who lived in two-parent households over the decade experienced sustained poverty.

”A child’s earliest years fundamentally shape their life chances,” the report’s authors wrote.

”Gaps in capabilities between children from socio-economically disadvantaged families and their more advantaged peers appear early in life. Starting school ‘behind the eight ball’ can begin a cycle of disadvantage that sets a trajectory for poorer outcomes later in life.”

The report, released on Thursday, looked at the experiences of people facing poverty between 2001 and 2010.

Although some people who experience disadvantage move out of it relatively quickly, the report found, some struggle for years.

Those people are most likely to be single parents and their children, indigenous Australians, and people with low-educational qualifications and persistent health conditions, or disabilities.

The report comes as the federal government fends off criticism for a decision last year to move 84,000 single parents off the sole parenting payment on to the lower unemployment Newstart payment once their youngest child turns eight.

The change came into effect on January 1.

In May the government changed the rules of people receiving the allowance to allow them to work more and still receive the payment.

However, it has failed to quell calls for the decision to be reversed, and for the base rate of the Newstart payment to be raised.

The issue is being considered by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Many of Mr Rudd’s supporters were critics of the decision to lower the payments of single parents.

The report looked at what it meant to live an ”impoverished life” rather than just dollar figures of income.

Just under 10 per cent of the population experienced relative income poverty for five or more years, and just more than 5 per cent struggled with disadvantage for seven years or more.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Ayshford’s exit could pave way for Simona deal

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Shark hunt: Blake Ayshford could be the latest player to defect from Wests Tigers to Cronulla. Photo: Steve ChristoBlake Ayshford could become the latest Tiger to defect to Cronulla in a move that could help the joint-venture club retain young gun Tim Simona.
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Ayshford is contracted to Wests Tigers for next season but has been granted a chance to test his value on the open market.

That window closes at the end of the week and it’s understood the Sharks are one of three Sydney clubs interested in him. The Sharks have already poached Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita, Beau Ryan, Chris Heighington, Dean Collis and John Morris from the Tigers in recent years.

The Tigers are trying to secure outstanding young winger Simona, who is off contract at the end of the season. It’s understood a number of rivals – including the Sharks – are already circling the Doonside Roos junior, who has impressed since making his NRL debut in 2011. Should Ayshford move on, just a week after Eddy Pettybourne was released to the English Super League, there is likely to be more money under the salary cap to offer Simona.

Chief operating officer Grant Mayer declined to discuss the Ayshford situation, but said he was hopeful of positive news on Simona. “He’s very much part of our plans, but the salary cap is a jigsaw puzzle and it’s one step at a time,” Mayer said.

“He’s been a big part of our discussions of late from a retention point of view.”

The Tigers are also hoping to retain Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses and have tabled offers to the young halves. “They are on contract for next year, they’ve both been identified as priorities but we’re prepared to work to the timeframe their manager says,” Mayer said.

Tigers officials have given fans an insight into the plans of the joint-venture club by answering questions posed by fans on social media. In his online responses, Mayer said coach Mick Potter is able to appoint his own support staff, dismissed concerns the club’s horrific injury toll is the result of mismanagement, and hinted there could be changes afoot when quizzed about the training facilities at Concord. “From my experience, we are a fair way behind the market leaders,” Mayer said.

“We need to make some very big decisions regarding our facilities now.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

China in NRL’s hands as Manly eye history

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China plates: Chinese citizens react to news that Manly might be touring the country. Photo: SuppliedThe final pitch for a game to be taken to China has been submitted to the NRL, with the ARL Commission set to make a call on Manly’s proposed China venture by the end of the month.
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The Sea Eagles lodged plans for a game to be played in Shenzhen next year, with the fixture likely to be played during the representative week or the State of Origin period. An independent consultant will conduct a feasibility study on an event officials hope will expose the game to new sponsors and audiences. Manly boss Dave Perry met Nine Network powerbrokers Steve Crawley, Jeff Browne, David Gyngell and Matt Callander last week to discuss the broadcasting implications.

Crawley said management had an “open mind” to the proposal, which would likely result in a live Friday night broadcast if it went ahead. “Every time anyone mentions China it’s a massive thing,” Crawley said. “The V8 Supercars have gone there, triathlon, ironman – but it’s not always as big a success as you’d hope. But the timeline is very good. We’ll wait for them to come back to us … Good on them for thinking about it. There’s already international money involved with Canberra and Manly. Who knows? It’s a great looking stadium. You start giving them a taste and there could be more money coming into the game.”

It’s expected the matter will be resolved at the next ARLC board meeting, scheduled for this month. Because of the cost, the NRL would have to underwrite the project. ARLC chief executive Dave Smith said the idea, which had the backing of Manly sponsor Kaspersky and Raiders counterpart Huawei, warranted investigation.

“Raiders and Manly are working through the concept from a marketing and promotional perspective and they have just engaged me,” Smith said. “Anything that takes the game to a wider audience is worth thinking about. Whether we do or don’t, you’d have to consider very carefully the priorities … there’s not that many opportunities and you have to make the most of the ones we have.”

The proposal calls for a three-year commitment from the NRL, and teams other than the Sea Eagles and Raiders could participate. Perry said the trip could create sponsorship opportunities for clubs desperate to improve their bottom line, while engaging new fans.

“It’s not just the best interests of the clubs, it’s about bringing new investment into the game from China,” Perry said. “Other codes have made inroads there and we can’t be sitting on our hands.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

POLL: Funds from art to transport 

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Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool. THRILLED: Greg Combet with Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison. Picture: Peter Stoop
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THE federal government sought to turn bad news into good yesterday when it took money from Newcastle and gave it to Lake Macquarie.

There was joy at Lake Macquarie City Council, which happily accepted $5.45 million for the much-anticipated Glendale transport interchange.

But the twist, and the sting in the tail for Newcastle, was that the money came from $7 million that the federal government withdrew from the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion.

Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson was furious, saying the state government and Newcastle City Council had failed the community.

“I don’t think we were dealt with genuinely by [state Newcastle MP] Tim Owen or the lord mayor [Jeff McCloy],” Ms Grierson said yesterday.

The $21 million Newcastle gallery project was to be split between the federal government, Newcastle City Council and the NSW government.

The council had committed $7 million, but Ms Grierson said that was lost when councillors voted 7-6 in April to place the gallery project on hold for several years.

Mr Owen said he fought for the gallery at state level, but Premier Barry O’Farrell had said it “didn’t make the cut for this budget”.

The Premier had said he would consider it post-budget, Mr Owen said.

“The budget runs out somewhere each year,” Mr Owen said. “We’re putting hundreds of millions of dollars into this city.”

Mr Owen said he had asked Ms Grierson if the federal government would consider leaving the money on the table.

Ms Grierson said the federal government was “as flexible as we could be and gave extensions”.

“I said to Tim Owen ‘if you can’t get this money, tell us’,” said Ms Grierson, who is retiring.

Cr McCloy was on a long-haul flight and unavailable for comment yesterday.

Newcastle general manager Ken Gouldthorp said the project had ‘‘politics behind it from the beginning’’.

‘‘In my 15 years in local government, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a funding agreement from a federal government that was finalised without full funding commitments from all parties involved,’’ Mr Gouldthorp said.

Politicians played down talk of the announcement stoking rivalry and division between the two cities or whether it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Charlton MP Greg Combet said the federal government ‘‘made the right call to keep this funding in our region’’.

The Glendale interchange aimed to improve public transport for thousands of Hunter residents.

Mr Combet said the $5.45million funding injection for the interchange added to a previous federal commitment of $7million.

The new money will go towards electrical infrastructure, roadworks and earthworks to prepare for construction of the Pennant Street bridge between Glendale and Cardiff.

‘‘This will be the last large funding commitment I secure for the electorate,’’ Mr Combet, who is quitting politics at the federal election, said.

‘‘It’s a good one.’’

Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison agreed, saying the funding would ‘‘move us closer to delivering the project’’.

‘‘It will ensure vital links between employment opportunities, residential growth areas and national transport routes,’’ she said.

The NSW government had committed $15million to the interchange and Lake Macquarie council $10million.

Newcastle had already spent $1.55million on design work for the art gallery, which was why the interchange was given $5.45million and not the full $7million, officials said.

Newcastle councillor Tim Crakanthorp said the art gallery project was over, at least ‘‘for the time being’’.

‘‘It’s a bitter pill to take, given the state government is selling the lease on the port for up to $1billion,’’ Cr Crakanthorp, gallery project control group chairman, said.

‘‘They can’t even fund one third of an iconic rejuvenation project for the CBD.’’

Bishop never looked at files: inquiry

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ARCHIVE of Herald reports
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BISHOP Michael Malone says he never looked at confidential files about his priests despite the paedophilia controversy that raged during his 16 years in charge of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese of the Catholic Church.

In an extraordinary afternoon of evidence before the Special Commission of Inquiry sitting in Newcastle, the retired bishop agreed that some of his evidence “defied belief”.

But he insisted it was true, and repeatedly said he had never seen a trove of documents obtained by the commission’s investigators, even though they all came from the diocese headquarters and some came from filing cabinets in his own office.

Some of Bishop Malone’s early evidence yesterday about the circumstances of his taking over the diocese from Bishop Leo Clarke in 1995 drew sympathetic laughter from many in the 50-strong gallery.

Bishop Malone said Bishop Clarke was ‘‘was out of there like a rocket’’ once he had relinquished control.

Asked why he had been moved from Gosford to run Maitland-Newcastle, Bishop Malone said: ‘‘I’m scratching my head about that still.

‘‘It was completely out of the blue. I had no idea.’’

He said dealing with paedophile priest Denis McAlinden was his first duty in charge but the only thing that Bishop Clarke would say when he asked him about it was that McAlinden had ‘‘behavioural issues’’.

Bishop Malone said that when he asked about the ‘‘secret’’ matters he knew would exist under church canon law, Bishop Clarke’s answer was that he would ‘‘find out about’’ them in time.

Asked to describe his feelings at the situation that confronted him, Bishop Malone, who served as head of the diocese until 2001, said: ‘‘Shock would be the right word.’’

But the gallery mood seemed to change as counsel assisting the commission, Julia Lonergan, asked Bishop Malone at length about the files recovered earlier this year from the diocese headquarters.

Some of the answers elicited audible gasps from paedophile victims and their families and supporters in the gallery.

Asked about checking the file of McAlinden, Bishop Malone said ‘‘I didn’t think to do that because I had enough already to act on’’.

Ms Lonergan said it ‘‘defied belief’’ that he would not familiarise himself with the history of McAlinden, who was eventually stripped of his priesthood.

Malone: ‘‘In hindsight, yes, but I thought there was enough to go on.’’

Later, Bishop Malone said: ‘‘I don’t know where your investigators found all these documents.

‘‘Presumably they accessed the archives of the diocese. That’s a luxury I didn’t have. I was in charge of a big diocese. Most of my days were planned beforehand.

‘‘I didn’t have time to go trolling through the archives, especially if I didn’t know what I might try to find.’’

He knew each priest had a personnel file and he presumed these would have contained confidential information.

Asked if he was telling the commission he had not opened any confidential file about any priest in his 16 years in charge, Bishop Malone said: ‘‘No, I don’t think I did.’’

Asked where the confidential files were kept, Bishop Malone said at least some were kept in filing cabinets in Bishop Leo Clarke’s office, which he acknowledged, when asked by Ms Lonergan, had become his own.

EVIDENCE: Bishop Michael Malone leaves Newcastle Supreme Court. Picture: Darren Pateman

He said the only ‘‘secret’’ documents that Bishop Clarke had alerted him to were in a ‘‘rather large briefcase in the corner of his office’’.

Bishop Malone said he could not recall if the briefcase had information about McAlinden or paedophile priest Jim Fletcher, but he did remember a ‘‘fairly lengthy’’ file about a woman who claimed to be ‘‘a visionary’’.

VIDEOS, GALLERY: Candidates forum

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HUNTER HOTSEATS: The Twitter conversation
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VIDEO: Sharon Claydon

VIDEO: Jaimie Abbott

VIDEO: John Church

VIDEO: Jill Hall

REPRESENTING the seat of Newcastle would be the equivalent of fighting for Australia, Liberal challenger Jaimie Abbott declared to her potential electors Wednesday night.

It was one of several intensely personal insights that emerged during a forum that lifted the lid on the motivations and intentions of candidates vying for the federal seats of Newcastle and Shortland.

Newcastle candidates Sharon Claydon and Ms Abbott and Shortland candidates John Church and incumbent Jill Hall went head to head in the forum hosted by the Newcastle Institute and Newcastle Herald at Newcastle City Hall.

In a night that reinforced the old adage that all politics is local, both sides agreed that the reappointment of Kevin Rudd as prime minister had significantly affected their chances.

“It’s certainly enhanced our chances since Kevin Rudd was re-elected to the leadership of the Labor Party,” Newcastle Labor candidate Ms Claydon, who is hoping to inherit the seat from incumbent Sharon Grierson, said.

But Ms Abbott, who needs a 12.5 per cent swing to take the seat, hit back.

“In 2007, people voted for Kevin Rudd and got Julia Gillard. In 2010 they voted for Julia and now they have Kevin. People are telling me they don’t know who they will get if they vote Labor.”

It was a similar theme from Mr Church, who needs a swing of 12.9 per cent to unseat member for Shortland Jill Hall.

But Ms Hall, in the face of bursts of heckling from Liberal supporters, gave the most passionate defence of the Labor leader.

“I’m the only one here who knows Kevin Rudd personally . . . I can understand why John and Jaimie are worried,” she said.

Ms Claydon and Ms Hall pitched the benefits of the government’s Better Schools Program, National Broadband Network and Disability Insurance Scheme.

In contrast, Mr Church and Ms Abbott argued the government stood condemned as a result of the carbon tax and its inability to stop the boats.

Both Ms Claydon and Ms Abbott admitted it was difficult to tell if the Coalition’s landslide victory in the last election would be repeated.

“If you look coldly at the numbers, it’s obvious that a lot of people who previously voted Labor voted Liberal for the first time,” Ms Claydon said.

Ms Hall launched a strident defence against a suggestion that she had been flying beneath the radar in the relatively safe Labor seat of Shortland.

She cited numerous occasions where she had campaigned for her community.

“I’m not about getting the 10-second news grab . . . I’m no show pony,” she asserted.

Mr Church pledged to improve the economic, social and environmental outlook of the diverse electorate.

The well-known media personality also rejected a suggestion that a Coalition government would cut funding to the ABC.

“We fully support ABC funding; it’s got an important part to play in our society,” he said.

FEDERAL FORUM: The audience at Newcastle City Hall. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: John Church responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

Several in last night’s audience protested that the Greens, which achieved about 15 per cent of the primary vote in Newcastle in the 2010 federal election, were not invited to participate in the forum.

FEDERAL FORUM: The audience at Newcastle City Hall. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: John Church addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jaimie Abbott addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jill Hall addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The audience at Newcastle City Hall. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: John Church addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jaimie Abbott addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The audience at Newcastle City Hall. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jill Hall addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The Herald’s Jason Gordon questions the candidates. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The Herald’s Jason Gordon talks with Jaimie Abbott. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jill Hall responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The Herald’s Jason Gordon talks with Jaimie Abbott. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: The candidates. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jill Hall addresses the audience. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Sharon Claydon responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

FEDERAL FORUM: Jill Hall responds to a question from the Herald’s Jason Gordon. Picture: Peter Stoop

Newcastle Institute chairman Ross Kerridge explained that only Labor and Liberal candidates had been invited because they would ultimately determine the outcome of the seats.

When it comes to gambling, competition is not always good

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James Packer’s Crown won a second casino licence in NSW.James Packer’s Crown was victorious in the battle to win a second casino licence in NSW, but the rationale employed by the expert panel that advised Premier Barry O’Farrell does not sit so neatly with the wealth of opinion available from bodies like the National Competition Council and the Productivity Commission.
Nanjing Night Net

Competition provides consumers with cheaper access to goods and services and improves availability. But there are certain goods or services that while legal are considered to contain adverse social and economic consequences and more competition could become a net disbenefit for the community. Gambling can fall into this category.

Former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission head Graeme Samuel noted that ”when it comes to gambling, competition is not always a desirable process because competition raises incentives to undertake activities, such as attracting more people to use your product, which may not be consistent with public interest considerations”.

The Productivity Commission’s report on the subject provides parameters. ”The two objectives providing the strongest rationale for specialist gambling policies are to ensure probity and to reduce the adverse social impacts. The overarching goal should be to maximise the welfare of the community as a whole.”

While it also concluded that exclusivity did not reduce problem gambling, the decision to allow a second casino licence in NSW does raise questions about whether it was appropriate for the O’Farrell government to rely so heavily on competition as its rationale for granting approval.

The net benefit to the state was fundamental to the decision to give Crown a casino licence – more tax and more tourism. The government’s insurance against the negative social consequences was to introduce a cooling-off period for those who sought membership to the proposed casino. It was also convinced the market that Crown would tap into would be either VIP punters who could afford to lose money or interstate or international players – presumably whose interests were not of concern in the NSW jurisdiction.

Crown’s proposal does assume a hefty increase in offshore patrons over time but it also relies heavily on local patrons. If these are simply cannibalised from Star then in theory there is no social disbenefit from increasing gaming tables in NSW. But realistically Crown will be looking to increase the size of the local, interstate and international markets to achieve its financial objectives of getting a respectable return on the $1.3 billion it plans to invest in Sydney’s Barangaroo development.

Meanwhile, Packer made a surprising comment this week saying the development at Barangaroo will be measured in terms of the halo effect of having it in the stable of Crown’s casino offerings (which include Melbourne, Perth and Macau).

Under this scenario it appears Barangaroo is being set up as something of a loss leader in much the same way as television networks buy expensive sport programs like the Olympics, the NRL and AFL (which don’t pay for themselves in advertising revenue) but support the network brand.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

England makes solid start on opening day of Ashes

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Nanjing Night Net

JAMES Pattinson settled his Ashes nerves with the wicket Australia wanted most, that of England’s unflappable captain Alastair Cook.

But England’s batsmen still got away to a bright start on the first morning at Trent Bridge.

Pattinson opened the series with a Steve Harmison-style loosener – a ballooning bouncer that was called a wide – but the young spearhead soon found some rhythm in cool, overcast conditions in Nottingham. He and Peter Siddle struck the first blows for Australia, removing Cook for 13 and his young opening partner Joe Root for 30 in the first session.

Pattinson, swinging the ball from the start, coaxed Cook, on 13, into a loose drive that was caught behind by Brad Haddin.

The Australian quicks, and Pattinson in particular, have made no secret of their intention to attack the England captain, who pounded 766 runs during the previous Ashes.

Root showed the composure that persuaded England’s selectors to promote the 22-year-old to open, pulling Pattinson for four for his first Ashes runs.

He shared an ominous partnership with Jonathan Trott, which Siddle broke with the first ball of his second spell. The experienced paceman knocked over Root’s stumps with a yorker that faded away from the right-hander at the last moment.

The home side went to lunch at 2-98, with Kevin Pietersen and Trott at the crease after the Australians launched their Ashes campaign by pitching teen spinner Ashton Agar into the fray after just 10 first class matches.

The theory that Pietersen, a major weapon against Australia in previous Ashes contests, is vulnerable to left-arm spin figured in the Australian selectors’ thinking.

The debutant was introduced to the attack to bowl the 16th over, his first ball driven comfortably through the covers by Trott for four. But Agar drifted the ball nicely, had an lbw appeal turned down and 0-8 from his first spell of three overs.

England won the toss and elected to bat at Trent Bridge, after selecting Steven Finn as the third quick and leaving Tim Bresnan out of the team.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.