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Queanbeyan teen pleads not guilty to killing his 10-year-old brother

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

A Queanbeyan teenager charged with accidentally killing his little brother has pleaded not guilty to the offence.
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The 16-year-old appeared in Queanbeyan Children’s Court on Tuesday, where he is charged with assault causing the death of his 10-year-old brother.

The charge was introduced recently as part of legislation designed to address the problem of one-punch attacks.

On the same day the Queanbeyan teenager pleaded not guilty to the offence, a Newcastle court recorded the first conviction of a person under the new legislation.

In the Newcastle case, the man was charged with manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault causing death. He will be sentenced in June.

The Queanbeyan incident occurred on May 23, 2016. It is alleged the teenager grabbed hold of the 10-year-old’s wrist and punched him in the ribs. The younger boy attempted to get away when the teenager allegedly pushed him, causing the boy to hit his head on the corner of a door frame.

The 16-year-old and his mother commenced CPR on the boy, however he was pronounced dead at the Canberra Hospital days after the incident when his life support was switched off.

Previously in court, the boy’s solicitor Michael Bartlett said the autopsy found the 10-year-old had a tissue disorder affecting his cerebral artery.

While a second opinion was sought on the previously undiagnosed brain condition, Mr Bartlett said he’d been told the expert view of the forensic psychologist who diagnosed the condition “doesn’t need to be questioned”.

Following the not guilty plea, both parties agreed the matter needed to be committed to trial because it was a homicide.

But the parties could not immediately decide which superior court should hear the matter.

Mr Bartlett called for the matter to be heard in the district court, where he said other matters with maximum 20-year sentences were heard.

The crown prosecutor suggested the matter should be committed to the supreme court, as this charge was a “statutory alternative” to murder and manslaughter.

The court concluded the case would be heard in the district court.

An application to waive a committal hearing was granted and the case will proceed in May.

‘Lost the biggest bet’: Gambling king convicted of insider trading

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

Four times, authorities went after famed Las Vegas sports gambler William T. Walters, and four times the man known as Billy emerged victorious.
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But on Friday, Walters’ luck turned, as a federal jury in Manhattan convicted him on fraud and conspiracy charges in one of the biggest insider trading trials in years.

“To say that I was surprised would be the understatement of my life,” Walters, 70, told reporters as he left the courtroom.

“If I would have made a bet I would have lost. I just did lose the biggest bet of my life. Frankly I’m in total shock.”

His lawyer, Barry Berke, said he would appeal the verdict.

Walters, one of the most successful professional sports gamblers in the country, was accused in the latest case against him of using non-public information from Thomas Davis, a board member of Dean Foods of Dallas, to make more than $US40 million from 2008 to 2014 by realising profits and avoiding losses.

The investigation into Walters’ activities and subsequent trial drew in prominent figures like Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor and unpaid adviser to President Donald Trump, and Phil Mickelson, the champion professional golfer. Swift decision

The conviction of Walters lifted something of a cloud that had hung over the US attorney’s office in Manhattan since December 2014, when a federal appeals court threw out the insider trading convictions of two hedge fund managers. That ruling led prosecutors to vacate the convictions and guilty pleas of several other people.

The verdict against Walters was also a coda to a series of insider trading prosecutions led by Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired days before the trial began.

The jurors in Walters’ case reached their decision after deliberating for a little more than half a day, rendering a swift decision in a trial that lasted 14 days spread over four weeks.

The quickness of the verdict vindicated the government’s trial strategy, including a decision to give a central role to Davis, an acknowledged embezzler and philanderer who had pleaded guilty to several offences connected to the insider trading scheme.

Davis, the government’s main witness, had his credibility repeatedly called into question by lawyers for Walters. The defense team said Walters had been falsely implicated by Davis, who was desperate to escape punishment for his own misdeeds.

One juror interviewed outside the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan where the trial was held said that he and the rest of the jury had not been swayed by that argument.

“We looked at his credibility,” the juror, Lonnie Drinks, said of Davis. “Everything was factored.”

Walters was convicted of 10 charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, the most serious of which carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

“Armed with his illegal edge, Walters made huge, perfectly timed trades, at times accounting for over a third of the trading volume in Dean Foods stock,” Joon Kim, the acting US attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

“In engaging in his yearslong stock fraud scheme, Walters underestimated law enforcement’s resolve to pursue and catch those who cheat the market.”

Walters, who was once profiled by “60 Minutes” because of his betting prowess, was not the only big name to come up during his trial. The Icahn connection

Icahn emerged in testimony and court filings as having had frequent discussions with Walters. A broker for Walters testified on cross-examination that some of Walter’s stock-trading ideas had come from Icahn, who was not charged with wrongdoing.

During a hearing outside the presence of the jury, one of Walters’ lawyers told the judge that Walters and Icahn were friends.

The lawyer, Paul Schoeman, added: “Mr. Walters has a long history of investing in stocks that Mr Icahn has publicly announced he’s interested in.”

Mickelson was also mentioned during the trial as someone who had traded in Dean Foods shares and once owed nearly $US2 million in gambling debts to Walters.

Mickelson made roughly $US1 million trading Dean Foods shares; he agreed to forfeit those profits in a related civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Known as “Lefty” for his left-handed stroke, Mickelson was not criminally charged. Though he was once seen as a potential witness at Walters’ trial, he was never called to testify. Tips on the Bat Phone

Prosecutors said that Walters had tried to hide his actions by supplying Davis with a prepaid mobile phone called the Bat Phone to use while conveying secret information and by sometimes speaking in code.

During the trial, prosecutors displayed phone logs and trading records, and an agent with the FBI testified that Walters sometimes made major trades within moments of speaking with Davis on the phone.

For instance, the agent testified, Davis and Walters spoke on the phone for 10 minutes one day in 2008 beginning at 12:54 pm. At 1:05 pm, Walters bought 462,200 shares of Dean Foods stock for about $US9.3 million.

Davis provided Walters with secret Dean Food information about future earnings statements, the planned purchase of another company and a pending initial public offering, prosecutors said.

At the same time, Walters arranged for loans of nearly $US1 million to Davis, who had financial problems and repaid only a small portion of what he borrowed, prosecutors said. ‘Babe Ruth of Risk’

Defense lawyers offered a contrasting account. They said that Walters was a skilled and fearless trader, referred to by one of his brokers as “the Babe Ruth of Risk,” who did not need inside information. Davis, Walters’ lawyers said, was trying to save himself by maligning Walters.

The competing narratives were on display throughout the trial. Davis testified that he had acted as a “virtual conduit” of secrets and had supplied Walters with an “enormous” amount of information.

At one point, Davis said, Walters provided him with the Bat Phone to use while communicating about Dean Foods, adding that later he had thrown it into a creek after federal agents visited his home.

Davis also testified that Walters sometimes spoke in code, using “Dallas Cowboys” to refer to Dean Foods and asking “How’s the milkman doing?” when inquiring about the company, then the country’s largest dairy processor.

Defense lawyers cross-examined Davis at length, eliciting acknowledgments that he had been squeezed for money, had taken $US100,000 from a charity he ran, had mislabelled expenses on his taxes and had lied to many people, including investigators with the SEC.

Walters’ lawyers suggested that Davis had misled prosecutors about his sports gambling habits and his contact with prostitutes, at one point reading into the record phone numbers for escort services in Chicago, Denver, New York and San Francisco that Davis, who told prosecutors he had not hired prostitutes in recent years, had called in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Berke also questioned the existence of what he called the “so-called Bat Phone,” which was never recovered, pointing out that Davis had first told prosecutors that it was black before then testifying at trial that it was maroon.

The New York Times

Tigers stars align to topple Eagles

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was smiling after his side outlasted West Coast at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.
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It was a performance won more through grit than polish, ably led by his side’s four best players – Alex Rance, Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin all outstanding – but with solid performances from his second tier.

“I thought our first half was a bit untidy, we looked a little bit flat,” he said. “We challenged our boys a little bit at half-time, and I thought all of our leaders stood tall – Trent, Jack, Alex, and then Dusty came to the fore as well.”

It wasn’t just about the leaders. Reece Conca continued his fine start to the season, and at the fall of the ball, the Tigers’ small forwards were dangerous. Daniel Rioli had nine touches, but his impact was undeniable, his agility and balance sublime, his third-quarter goal brilliant.

But it was the Tigers’ determination to hunt the ball inside the contest that outworked the Eagles.

“I thought we got our mix right of our inside and then guarding the outside,” Hardwick said.

“They hurt us a little bit on the outside early. I thought Lambert did a terrific job on Mitchell from about halfway through the second quarter, which probably stifled them a little bit, but I was really pleased that our guys, when challenged, lifted the bar.”

Adam Simpson acknowledged that his side had been beaten for intensity around the ball.

“Our poor intent in the third really cost us. We probably should have been hurt by that a bit more, but hard-ball gets – your ability to stick our head over the ball when it really mattered – went away from us in that third quarter in particular. Having said that, the game was still on the line right up until the last five minutes.”

The Eagles have just a five-day break before they take on Sydney, who are in the unfamiliar position of being without a win after three rounds, but Simpson said he expected no more from the Swans’ renowned hardness than any other side.

“I think every team wants pressure and intensity in the contest and to win the contested ball,” he said.

“That’s coming every week. The Saints were the same last week; North the same round one. So that’s just a given now, I don’t think it’s any team’s particular style, just some teams are better than others. We’ve got to move on pretty quick. On Monday we’ll start working on the opposition with our players.

“We’ll take some positives out of today, but we’ll also take some big areas of improvement and like I said, Richmond were consistent all day in that area of the game, and in the end it’s hurt us.”

Richmond, by contrast, are three and zip. Next week, they take on an improving Brisbane on the road: win that, and you have to go back to 1995 for the last time the Tigers opened a season with four straight. “Brisbane are actually playing some pretty good footy at the moment, have taken it up to a couple of sides,” Hardwick said.

“It’s always tough going interstate, but we travel pretty well, so we look forward to that challenge up on their hostile deck.”

‘Disgusting’: Ex-Barclays trader tweets rather than testifies at trial

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

A former Barclays swaps trader, cleared of manipulating a key-interest rate benchmark, declined to testify at his trial, but spent much of it with his head bowed at the back of the court, tweeting about politics, finance and, sometimes, the case itself.
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While the lead prosecutor, Emma Deacon, was cross-examining another trader, Stylianos Contogoulas posted: “Yep, I’m sure of it. She is officially the most repulsive, disgusting and dishonest person I have ever seen in my life.”

Contogoulas, 45, and Ryan Reich, 35, were cleared of rigging the London interbank offered rate.

It was a retrial, ordered after jurors at a 2016 trial couldn’t reach a decision on their roles in a conspiracy that included four others at Barclays. The rate-rigging scandal tainted the industry and forced changes to how the benchmark, used to value trillions of dollars worth of financial products, is calculated.

Financial firms have paid more than $US9 billion ($12 billion) in fines and the public outrage cost Barclays — the first to settle — its chief executive officer.

Still, critics have been disappointed by the lack of prosecutions targeting senior officials. While Contogoulas and Reich admitted they’d requested rates that helped their own trading books, they said they were only doing what their bosses told them to do.

On March 28, while Reich was testifying, Contogoulas tweeted the following:

A lawyer for Contogoulas and a spokeswoman at the SFO didn’t return emails and calls seeking comment. Contogoulas changed his Twitter profile to private on April 4 and deleted several tweets – including the ones quoted in this story – that could have related to the trial.

Contogoulas complained about the fairness of trial coverage in some tweets, and commented on the proceedings in others.

The posts raise questions about rules designed to preserve a fair trial that restricts commentary beyond what is put to the jury and whether social-media activity should be monitored more closely.

“There is very real risk that, if discovered, a running social-media commentary by a defendant could lead to the discharge of the jury and an expensive retrial,” said Neil Swift, a lawyer at Peters & Peters, who wasn’t involved in the case.

“The prevalence of social media makes it very difficult for those concerned in maintaining the integrity of the court process.”

UK laws are quite strict, with judges regularly slapping restrictions on naming individuals, companies and previous prosecutions to preserve the right to a fair trial. With the rise of social media, the courts have tried to keep up with the ever-growing threat.

Two jurors were each jailed for two months in 2013 after one discussed his case on Facebook and another researched the case online and told his fellow jurors. New social-media guidelines were developed in response, but in 2015, a murder prosecution collapsed when a juror “favourited” a tweet by a newspaper about the case. ‘Husband, parent, dog lover, trader’

A Greek citizen, who worked as a computer engineer prior to banking, Contogoulas describes himself to the circa 1,700 followers of his Twitter profile as a “Husband, parent, dog lover, trader. In that order.” The page also features a photo of him in a baseball cap beneath a backdrop of what looks to be a Greek island.

Contogoulas’ posts that appeared to relate to the case took up only a fraction of his Twitter activity during the six-week trial. Most of the time he focused on commodity prices (Silver coming up to a resistance zone around $18.50-$19), the pound (CFTC: Sterling speculative shorts at all-time high) and Brexit (the UK is all sorts of trouble. Brexit will be the end of its economy growth, big problems for decades, more easing.)

He also mentioned family outings to the Disney Store and an April Fool’s Day post about borrowing his brother’s BMW.

As well as musing on current affairs and offering trading tips, Contogoulas “liked” posts from other users that criticised the SFO and Barclays, mostly from a small band of accounts associated with traders who have been sent to jail following the Libor probe.

“David Green to be knighted by all the Libor families,” one user said March 24, referring to the head of the UK fraud prosecutor. “SIR LIE A LOT.”

At the first trial, three former Barclays traders were convicted of Libor rigging and jurors were told a senior rate submitter had pleaded guilty earlier.

The panel couldn’t reach a decision on Contogoulas or Reich.

On the same day Barclays executive Harry Harrison — who appeared as a witness at both trials — testified, Contogoulas wrote: “Lies, lies, just so many lies. Enough already. I really wonder how these people can sleep at night, or look their kids in the eye.”

Contogoulas started his commentary on the first day of the retrial — “So the fight begins again. The truth always wins” — and continued it right up to the end, tweeting this after the verdict on Thursday: VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!! The truth always wins??? Stelios (@bbki2611) April 6, 2017

How can Ivan Cleary let Mitchell Moses go now?

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

How can Ivan Cleary let Mitchell Moses go now?
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As he addressed the team for potentially the last time before Saturday night’s clash against the Cowboys, Moses looked his teammates in the eye and said: “no excuses”.

Eighty minutes of football later, which saw Johnathan Thurston leave the field in the dying minutes with a serious leg injury, the Wests Tigers were celebrating a victory on a memorable night in the club’s history.

“I was really fired-up before the game and wanted to prove people wrong,” Moses told Fox Sports after the match. “I’m going to try and put in every performance I have for the Tigers. I showed tonight I’m not giving up.”

If ever a team had a right to use excuses, it was the Tigers in Townsville on Saturday night.

They had a new coach in Cleary taking the reins on Monday.

Their five-eighth signed a contract with Parramatta for next year and retaliated to having his Tigers contract withdrawn by asking for directions to the exit doors.

Their skipper Aaron Woods and superstar fullback James Tedesco refused to commit to the club amid a circus of speculation surrounding their futures. But, 135 seconds into the Cleary regime, they moved to put a tumultuous month behind them and break a four-match losing streak with a fortuitous try to prop Ava Seumanufagai to mark a new era.

From his first meeting with the players to his first press conference in charge of the Tigers, Cleary has repeatedly alluded to this ‘bus’. You’re either on it or off it, he said.

A few days ago, Moses pressed the ‘stop’ button well before his desired destination. He wanted out. Or at least his manager wanted him waiting at the bus stop for Brad Arthur to arrive. But Cleary kept driving. Not stopping despite oncoming traffic ordering him to slow down.

Despite having his request for a release denied by the Tigers, Moses didn’t chuck his toys out of the cot. In fact, throughout the team’s preparation in Townsville, he committed to the cause.

He didn’t go into his shell. He interacted with Cleary throughout training. And while he still might be at Parramatta this week, he made it clear he had no intention of leaving Tigertown being accused of tanking.

Perhaps Moses was the most fired-up of the lot. High fiving and fist pumping his way around the ground shouting words that should never be printed in a newspaper.

“No excuses,” he reiterated to his teammates before kick-off.

Then the ambush began.

Not even Cleary expected the events of the next 80 minutes to transpire as they did. This was meant to be the toughest baptism of fire in the history of new coaches. A road trip to Townsville to take on Thurston and company.

But they played like a team on notice. Like a team that knew if they dished out what they have been in recent weeks they’d soon be on the lookout for a new club.

For a team that has long faded in and out of games, the victory against the Cowboys was the closest thing to a disciplined performance they’ve produced in a long time.

When they conceded a try, they didn’t concede three in quick succession. When they scored a try, they didn’t go looking for the big play.

And when they made an error, of which there were many, they didn’t drop their heads. They scrambled like men in black and gold haven’t scrambled in a long time.

Just like they did against Melbourne a fortnight ago in the first game of the post-Jason Taylor era, the Tigers burst out of the blocks to notch an early 14-0 lead.

This time they didn’t run out of steam. This time they had the heart to fight until the final whistle – ensuring Chris Lawrence’s 200th game would be one to savour.

And as one Tigers player yelled with relief after the game: “Thank god”. So the question has to be asked again. How can Cleary let Moses go now?

Not this year. And thanks to a little thing called the 10-day cooling-off period, perhaps not next year. “It was a really gusty effort and I’m glad we got the win” – @mitchmoses6#NRLCowboysTigers#NRLpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/G1wdWrQr0Z??? NRL (@NRL) April 8, 2017

‘You can’t kick Brumbies out of Canberra’: Jeremy Paul

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

If the ARU needed a reminder of why the ACT Brumbies belong in Super Rugby, they only needed to be at Canberra Stadium to watch a bunch of 40-somethings light up the crowd.
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SANZAAR – Super Rugby’s governing body – will make an announcement on the competition’s future on Sunday night with the Brumbies still in danger of being axed.

It’s likely the announcement on Sunday will be on the format of Super Rugby rather than which teams will be jettisoned.

But there is at least a glimmer of hope the uncertainty that has plagued the Brumbies, Western Force and Melbourne Rebels is nearing its end.

The Brumbies rolled out some club legends in the curtain-raiser match at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, with Jeremy Paul, Andrew Walker, Stephen Larkham and Radike Samo leading the ACT legends.

It was a perfectly timed message of the Canberra club’s rich history and long list of champion players, and Paul passionately defending the Brumbies’ future.

“The Brumbies have been the most successful team in , they can’t be kicked out of Super Rugby,” said former hooker Paul.

“If this was [NRL club] the Canberra Raiders, I would be the first one to say that they can’t be moved out of Canberra.

“Canberra will not get an A-League side, it will not get an AFL side … the ACT government needs to step in. As simple as that.

“The Brumbies have taken Canberra international. It’s not just about a rugby side, it’s about Canberra. The Brumbies have been the fabric of the capital. Canberra has to unite and make sure this team stays here.”

Some of the ex-Brumbies were on weary legs as a surprisingly big pre-game crowd rolled into the stands to take a back to the future trip to the club’s glory years.

Matt Henjak directed play from scrumhalf, Samo looked looked like he could run around in Super Rugby and Walker showed he’s still got some magic.

But the biggest cheer was for Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, one of the club’s favourite sons and a two-time Super Rugby champion.

Larkham made a cameo appearance in the last 10 minutes, taking a break from his team’s preparation to play the Queensland Reds to turn back the clock.

The only problem was he was injured in his first tackle, dislocating a finger but bravely playing on to kick a conversion after the siren.

The Brumbies contemplated luring 43-year-old Walker out of retirement earlier this year when they were hit with pre-season injuries.

“It was so good to be back here,” Walker said.

“I probably had the itch to play again a few months ago, but not now. That was my first run in 15s for a while and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Crossbenchers demand gas tax fix as report finds LNG revenue ‘inadequate’

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

The Turnbull government could improve its budget bottom line by nearly $3 billion a year if offshore petroleum companies were forced to pay a flat royalty on the gas they extract and export, new research suggests.
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The report into the petroleum resource rent tax by the McKell Institute will be launched on Sunday as Senate crossbenchers warned Treasurer Scott Morrison against backing away from an expected budget measure to make the liquefied natural gas industry contribute more to public coffers.

The report, written by Richard Holden, a professor of economics at UNSW Business School, found the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax (PRRT) system was “increasingly inadequate” and should be replaced with a 10 per cent royalty that would guarantee annual revenue of between $1.3 billion and $2.8 billion.

“While the PRRT aims to protect gas and oil producers from occasional volatility in resource prices, in reality, the PRRT is extremely generous towards major oil and gas companies, who poorly compensate the n public for the publicly owned resources they are extracting from the ground, and selling for profit,” he found.

“Fossil fuel resources in are not renewable: their extraction can only occur once, and it is vital that companies making a profit off this extraction fairly compensate the n public for the resource they are depleting.”

In a radio interview last week, Mr Morrison – who said “we think it is a problem” when he appointed former treasury official Mike Callaghan to head a review into the PRRT in November – appeared to backtrack, insisting was not “missing out” on revenue from the LNG sector.

He channelled the industry’s argument that changes to the $200 billion sector could discourage future investment and hamper solutions to the domestic gas supply crisis.

But crossbenchers are lining up to insist there must be a PRRT fix in the May budget.

Nick Xenophon, whose Senate numbers will be critical to the government passing budget measures, told Fairfax Media on Saturday that the profits-based PRRT system is “beyond broken”.

“It must be addressed in the budget and there must also be a focus on ensuring gas supply into the domestic market. In their heart of hearts the gas producers must know they have been living on easy street for too long,” he said.

A differential tax rate on the $30 billion export LNG sector to domestic gas could be part of a solution, he said.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said it would be “difficult to consider any budget proposal” unless the government presents measures to “end the obscene situation of giving away our gas for free in the face of a domestic energy crisis”, while Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch said he believed was “not getting a fair and equitable return” from the LNG boom.

A spokeswoman for One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the party was seeking information from the government around whether it expects to generate any PRRT revenue from the big LNG export projects.

Fairfax Media first revealed in November 2015 that PRRT receipts were declining sharply despite the LNG industry’s transformation from a $5 billion concern a decade ago to a $60 billion export powerhouse.

When eclipses Qatar as the world’s biggest gas exporter in 2020, the federal government is forecast to receive just $800 million from the PRRT while the Qatari government will take $26.6 billion via its flat royalty on the same volume of gas output, official government forecasts show.

Despite the n beer industry being about a tenth the size of LNG, the government gets about three times more in beer excise – $2.5 billion a year – than PRRT.

The LNG industry argues that the profits-based PRRT, which allows investors to recoup capital costs before paying the tax, is working the way it was designed to when it was brought in by the Hawke Labor government in 1984.

At the time, then treasurer Paul Keating said applying a flat royalty on production would “discourage marginal projects from getting underway and bring about the early termination of projects”.

But Ken Henry in his 2010 tax system review found that the system “over-compensated” the industry and Craig Emerson, who designed the PRRT with economist Ross Garnaut, has raised concerns that available deductions are too generous.

Industry peak body n Petroleum Production & Exploration Association said it “does not consider a case exists for any changes to be made to the existing PRRT”

“Critics of PRRT express concerns about its failure to collect revenue at all stages of the investment cycle. These views do not recognise the intense global competition for investment, the economy-wide benefits of the industry, the risks undertaken by investors, the actual rent generated by projects, the timing of the investment cycle and more fundamentally, disregard the intentional design features of the PRRT,” APPEA said.

The McKell report found “no PRRT is likely to be paid for 15-20 years, if at all” from offshore LNG projects.

Professor Holden noted in his report that: “Several market participants suggested in private conversations that the offshore LNG owners do not expect to pay any PRRT – and no longer even factor in such calculation to their financial analysis.”

Tax Justice Network spokesman Jason Ward said: “This does not pass the pub test. No one thinks that oil and gas companies should get our offshore gas for free.”

The Sydney school with 10 mass brawls a week and 50 suspensions a year

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

As many as 10 brawls a week, children walking out of class whenever they felt like it and teachers refusing to set foot in certain parts of the playground.
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That was what Melissa Proctor was confronted with when she first came to Bass Hill Public School as its new principal in 2014.

“It was viewed by the community as the school you don’t go to,” Mrs Proctor said.

“There was violence on the playground, violence in the classrooms, disrespect towards adults.

“The culture was that if you didn’t like something someone did or said, you’d hit them.”

Three years later, it’s a completely different story.

Students who were some of the worst offenders are now on the school’s student representative council and winning awards for positive behaviour.

The number of suspensions have dropped from as many as 50 in Mrs Proctor’s first year on the job to about 20 last year and just one so far this year.

She said the narrow academic focus of schools and teachers is partly to blame for common behavioural problems.

“We teach kids writing, reading and numbers but we expect them to behave,” she said.

“So bit by bit, we taught them what we wanted to see.”

She started talking to children and their parents and getting to know the families at the school.

“We had one little boy who would pick up sticks and hit people at lunchtime,” she said.

“When we started talking to him and his dad, we worked out he didn’t want to be out on the playground with 350 other kids, it was too much for him.

“His teachers worked with him and now he’s doing very well.”

Mrs Proctor also made it impossible for students to get out of class, no matter what they did.

“Kids had the idea that if they act out, they’ll be sent out and won’t have to learn,” she said.

“We told them they’d always be sent back and we’d talk to them at lunchtime.”

The school stands out for the much broader approach it takes to learning, with time set aside for meditation and mindfulness in the classroom.

“We have a social and emotional learning curriculum, not just an academic curriculum,” she said.

“We’re looking more at wellbeing, which means kids are calmer, their brains are more focussed and they’re ready to learn.”

Mrs Proctor’s success has led to her winning a scholarship to Harvard University in July to do a week-long leadership course with two other n principals, under the Harvard Club of Scholarship program.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to experience an international perspective and bring it home,” she said.

“And I get to go out and share my school community and the amazing things my teachers and students have done.”

Government accused of attack on free speech for revoking visa of Palestinian activist

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

A Palestinian political activist has been prevented from speaking in after the Turnbull government cancelled his visa on the grounds that “members of the public will react adversely” to him.
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Supporters of Bassem Tamimi believe he is the victim of pressure by pro-Israel groups and have accused Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of conducting “an attack on free speech”.

Mr Tamimi, 50, a longtime vocal critic of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, was due to speak in Melbourne and Sydney as a guest of pro-Palestinian groups.

He was granted a three-month visa on April 4 but within 24 hours it was revoked.

In a letter from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Tamimi was told the minister can cancel a visa if he is satisfied that its holder is a “risk to the health, safety or good order of the n community or a segment of the n community”.

“The Department has recently been made aware of information that indicates there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to Mr Tamimi’s presence in regarding his views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is a risk that his presence in would or might pose a risk to the good order of the n community,” the Department said.

A Department spokeswoman denied the cancellation was an “act of extreme censorship”, as Mr Tamimi’s supporters claim.

“The n government supports freedom of speech and freedom of religious and political beliefs. The exercise of this freedom does involve a responsibility to avoid vilification of, inciting discord in, or representing a danger to, the n community,” she said.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the decision to cancel was made by the Department but Mr Dutton’s office was “aware of the case”.

Mr Tamimi, who had left his West Bank home town of Nabi Saleh to travel to Jordan to fly to before his visa was revoked, said he had been blocked by the powerful influence of the pro-Israel lobby.

“I feel that not only Palestine is occupied, the Zionists and their allies dominate the decision in all the world,” AAP quoted him as saying.

Vashti Kenway, an organiser of the speaking engagements, said there was a double standard after the government rolled out the red carpet for visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited in February.

“The hypocrisy of the department couldn’t be starker, recently Benjamin Netanyahu was allowed entry to and met with large demonstrations opposing the military occupation of Palestine, reflecting a clear adverse public reaction,” she said.

“Yet Netanyahu was not only granted entry but invited to address the Prime Minister. It is clear that this decision is motivated to silence Pro-Palestinian views rather than avoiding politically controversial views.”

Mr Tamimi has previously been convicted by an Israeli military court for taking part in “illegal demonstrations and soliciting protesters to throw stones”.

Amnesty International campaigned for his release from prison in 2012 after he was jailed for his involvement in protests.

In Nabi Saleh, there have been weekly protests against settlements every week since 2009.

Liberals scrape home in Sydney byelections

12/12/2018 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

The Liberal Party narrowly claimed victory in two key pieces of its heartland in Sydney’s north after voters delivered thumping swings away from the party in three byelections on Saturday.
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The state government prevailed on the unmarked preferences of minor party voters after a nail-biting contest for the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of North Shore and was expected to survive an even larger voter backlash in Manly.

Labor comfortably retained and extended its lead on the Central Coast.

“Our scrutineers tell us we can reclaim the seat of North Shore,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a small band of supporters in Cammeray on Saturday night.

“I always said North Shore would come down to the wire.

“[Voters] put their faith in me, they put their faith in [candidate Felicity Wilson] and we won’t let them down.”

With more than half the votes counted, the swing against the Liberal Party on first preferences reached more than 17 per cent in North Shore.

But the collusion of independent and minor party candidates to preference the Liberal Party last had less impact than predicted.

The Liberals’ first preference totals remained at nearly 43 per cent in Manly and 42 per cent in North Shore despite the swings.

Marking preferences is optional in NSW elections and the rate at which minor party voters marked, or did not mark, second and third preferences gave the Liberals confidence to declare victory.

The Premier had claimed victory in Manly earlier on Saturday. In former premier Mike Baird’s seat Liberal candidate James Griffin was projected to win despite being down on first preference votes and the findings of a liquidator a company he ran may have traded while insolvent.

“Let me assure the men and women of [Manly] you will have in James an outstanding local member,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Liberals chalked up the major denting of their vote in party heartland to scandals involving their candidates and anger at council amalgamation among the party’s most loyal voters, especially in Mosman, the suburb which was home to the first ever branch of the Liberal Party, set up by Robert Menzies.

Locals in North Shore and in Manly have been vocal in their opposition to the state government’s plan to forcibly merge the council with its neighbours, which had resulted in legal action against the state government by Mosman, Lane Cove and North Sydney Councils.

Ms Berejiklian cancelled planned mergers of several rural councils that had brought action against the government soon after taking power and negotiating with a new leader of her Coalition partner the Nationals. But she declined to do the same for councils in urban areas, potentially inviting political backlash.

Volunteers from the Save Our Councils coalition flooded polling booths in North Shore and Manly from all around NSW.

“I’m going to be a strong local voice,” said government relations and media adviser Felicity Wilson, who prevailed despite revelations she had signed an incorrect statutory declaration that told party preselectors she had lived in the electorate for 10 years.

The average loss of first preferences by a sitting government in NSW byelections since 1988 is about 9 per cent, with the National Party’s thrashing in the seat of Orange last year setting the high benchmark at 34 per cent.

Labor, which is not contesting either seat in Sydney’s north, was set to retain and extend its lead in a third seat, Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.

The ALP candidate, Liesl Tesch, a Paralympian wheelchair basketball gold medallist, attracted a swing of about 10 per cent on first preferences.

Labor MP Kathy Smith claimed the seat back from the Liberals by about 200 votes last election. She has retired from Parliament following a cancer diagnosis.

Two Liberal veterans, Mr Baird and former health minister Jillian Skinner, represented Manly and North Shore and caused byelections following their retirement from politics.