Inner city factory the place for a $211 million village

Interests associated with the 138-year old Gunnersen??? family business are seeking state ministerial approval to replace their enormous Port Melbourne factory and head office with a $211 million mixed-use village containing three apartment towers, shops, childcare – and a 4600 square metre public space.
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The application aims to build 632 apartments at 112 Salmon Street, a long-time trade-supply outlet on the western side of the Fishermans Bend urban renewal zone – between the outgoing Toyota factory and Westgate Park.

Since 2013, most of Fishermans Bend’s skyscraper proposals has been for sites in the area known as Montague, which is more than a kilometre closer to the city than 112 Salmon Street, which is in an area recently zoned as Wirraway.

The Gunnersen factory is close to the 18-22 Salmon Street office which famously sold to residential builders for $27.5 million in February – a rise on the $12.5 million the vendors paid three years prior. Goodman Group is also expected to replace its enormous Port Melbourne Industrial Estate in the area, with flats, longer term.

If approved, the Gunnersen village will include three apartment buildings of between 12 and 18 storeys.

The company, the largest independently Australian-owned distributor of wood-based panel products, timber and decorative surface materials in the Australia-New Zealand region, manages a substantial national property portfolio including in Melbourne, a Derrimut asset near the high-profile John Deere factory, which backs onto the West Gate Freeway.

Earlier this month it was reported US technology company Sunguard Availability Services won approval to build an 18-storey apartment complex at 134-142 Ferrars Street, in the South Melbourne portion of Fishermans Bend, after a 49-level application sought in 2013 was rejected.

Last month R.Corporation applied to Planning Minister Richard Wynne to build twin-height 40-level apartment buildings on an outgoing print factory it bought for $33 million last year at 253-273 Normanby Road, South Melbourne. This proposed $252 million complex would contain 824 standard apartments and 153 hotel suites.

The proposed park at 112 Salmon Street is the second announced for Melbourne’s inner-south recently – with Malaysian builder OSK Property this week unveiling a 3700 square metre European-style public space for its six-tower Melbourne Square project, in Southbank.

Ex-footballer lists shop part-leased to ex-footballer

An Armadale property with two AFL connections hit the market this week.

At 1033 High Street, the three-level building configured with a shop, second floor office, and top storey apartment, is expected to return the vendor, former Carlton and Fitzroy player, Robert “Wallsy” Walls about $2.9 million.

At the centre of a popular retail strip, the ground floor space is tenanted by Jaggad, the athletic clothes design business created by Chris Judd, a former West Coast and Carlton captain, and his wife, model and ex-weather presenter, Rebecca.

A law firm on the middle level accessed via its own High Street entrance, and a resident, fill the rest of the building, which returns a total of $135,000 in annual rent. The modern asset contains 345 square metres of lettable area and a 50 square metre garage off a rear right-of-way.

Gray Johnson’s Rory White and Matt Hoath are representing Mr Walls, who following a successful playing career went on to coach Carlton Football Club to the 1987 (then-VFL) premiership.

Smith & Gunn offer enormous ground-floor Southbank space

Melbourne developers Les Smith and the Gunn family are selling the super-sized 1080 square metre ground floor retail premises of their prominent Guild apartment building, which appears to straddle the West Gate Freeway as it enters the Burnley Tunnel.

The asset at 152 Sturt Street is fully leased to the City of Melbourne’s Creative Victoria division, which pays $168,105 in annual rent.

Savills is expecting about $2.8 million for the space which has the potential to be divided into six smaller, retail shops. Creative Victoria has sub-let some of the space to other groups, including the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Clinton Baxter, Jesse Radisich and Benson Zhou are the marketing agents.

Herszberg trading huge inner-west parcel

A partnership including business stalwart Myer Herszberg??? has found a buyer for a high-profile corner site in what may be Melbourne’s most low-profile inner city suburb, Tottenham.

The 1.6 hectare industrial property, spread over 12 titles at 213 Sunshine Road, has long term residential redevelopment potential. It has an unmissable road frontage of 187 metres, and nearly 10,000 square metres of building area.

The investment is leased but returning what agency Fitzroys called “a low market rental” of $304,457 per annum.

The sale price has been speculated to be more than $8 million – but this could not be confirmed with agents Dean Alexander and Mark Talbot who were unavailable.

Mr Herszberg, who retired as the long-serving chairman of InfoMedia??? in 2015, founded the Denman Audio chain more than 20 years ago and has been involved in a variety of businesses and community service organisations. He is attributed with bringing many cutting-edge electronics products to Australia.

Tottenham is 9 kilometres west of the CBD and this site is walking distance to the train station. A housing estate is taking shape opposite 213 Sunshine Road (this area is zoned as Braybrook). In May Stockland paid $62 million for an 11.5 hectare Braybrook ex-industrial site, which it now plans to replace with townhouses.

Picnic Island Freycinet complex nominated for award

A Picnic Island resort recently opened by former state liberal member Clem Newton-Brown, who came from, and returned to, the planning sector, around a political career that ended in 2014, has been nominated for an Australian Institute of Architects award, for the Small Project category.

The Picnic Island Freycinet complex was created by a team led by project architect, John Latham.

Newton-Brown, a planning barrister who has developed a reputation for taking on complex planning applications often for sensitive sites, had to utilise his skills to get the tourist accommodation approved – the island being cantilevered over the high water mark.

“There is nowhere in Australia where approvals for this type of tourist facility so close to the water have been granted,” Newton-Brown told Fairfax Media. “Even though I got the approvals to build, the responsibility weighed heavily on me to do something special that enhanced rather than detracted from the iconic Freycinet Peninsula environment. My brief to the architect was to create something that looked like it could have washed up on shore,”

“The weathered full copper cladding makes it look like it’s been there a hundred years already”.

In 2007, Newton-Brown sold a 508 square metre plot at the top of Lansell Road, Toorak, with a permit he obtained for it to be used as a private or commercial boat mooring. He later established the Ponyfish Island cafe on a pontoon beneath the Southgate footbridge. In Tasmania, Newton-Brown also owns the Sawyers Bay Shacks tourist accommodation venue, on Flinders Island.

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Open house at Fairfax Media as a second bidder turns up

A second American private equity firm has offered to buy Fairfax Media, while the original bidder has agreed to be grilled by a Senate committee about its plans for journalism at the media group.
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The publisher of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review said on Thursday morning it had received an indicative, preliminary and non-binding proposal from Hellman & Friedman to buy 100 per cent of the company for $2.87 billion.

The bid values the company between $1.225 and $1.250 a share in cash, and assumes the company pays shareholders no dividends.

It comes after a consortium featuring US private equity group TPG Capital and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) made an approach to Fairfax earlier this month at $1.20 a share, or $2.76 billion.

Hellman & Friedman has been described as a “more credible” buyer by media industry observers, given its historical relationship with Fairfax Media.

Meanwhile, TPG on Thursday morning agreed to appear before the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism, after failing to appear on Wednesday. A special hearing has been scheduled for Friday afternoon in Melbourne.

The committee is likely to grill TPG’s head of Australia and New Zealand operations, Joel Thickins, on what TPG and OTPP plan to do with Fairfax if they emerge as the winning bidders.

A spokesman for TPG said Mr Thickins was prepared to affirm the consortium’s commitment to Fairfax’s Charter of Editorial Independence which protects journalists from commercial interference.

The committee is also likely to summon representatives of Hellman & Friedman for similar questioning. In anticipation of a bidding war the market pushed Fairfax shares up 7 per cent to $1.24.

The media company said it would now open its books to both bidders so they could conduct due diligence and establish if an acceptable deal could be agreed on. In about one week Fairfax will create what is known as a “data room” where bidders get up to six weeks’ access to read internal information and possibly interview key staff.

Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon said the board had carefully considered both proposals and believed “it is in the best interests of shareholders to grant both parties due diligence to explore whether a potential whole of company proposal is available.”

Hellman & Friedman, headquartered in San Francisco, has previously bought media assets including the photography wire service Getty Images, which it purchased in 2008 and sold in 2012.

In 2003, Hellman & Friedman bought into Axel Springer, the publisher of German newspapers Die Welt and Bild. It exited its investment in 2010. It also bought and then in 2015 floated German online classified’s site Scout24, which is currently headed up by former REA Group chief executive Greg Ellis.

Fairfax said moves to separate its real estate advertising arm Domain would continue during the due diligence period. iFrameResize({enablePublicMethods : true, heightCalculationMethod : “lowestElement”,resizedCallback : function(messageData){}, checkOrigin: false},”#pez_iframeA”);

Media industry commentator Mark Westfield noted Hellman & Friedman senior adviser Brian Powers was a former chairman of Fairfax Media (from 1998 to 2002).

Mr Powers also spent many years working alongside current Fairfax Media chairman, Nick Falloon.

“[Hellman & Friedman] wouldn’t be interested in buying [Fairfax] unless they saw the assets of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review and Domain as good assets to maintain,” Mr Westfield said.

“They are a more credible buyer than TPG. They have got a history with Fairfax and they know the business.”

“There may be some asset sales, but they would not be doing this if they were not genuine buyers looking at maintaining the mastheads.”

Hellman & Friedman were also touted as a potential bidder for Network Ten in 2014, but that deal never eventuated. Venture capitalist Mark Carnegie is advising Hellman & Friedman.

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ACT short-changed by federal budget, says Labor

Treasurer Scott Morrison during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 11 May 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesIn Melbourne they said Sydney was being spoilt rotten. In Sydney they said it was visionary and nation building.
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But the federal opposition says Canberra can rightly claim to feel short-changed by Scott Morrison’s second federal budget on the key infrastructure spending measures.

Analysis of budget allocations show the ACT will receive just 0.4 per cent of federal infrastructure spending between 2017-18 and 2021-22, well below the capital’s 1.6 per cent population share.

The ACT is receiving the lowest share of any state or territory in three categories of road funding: $15.8 million for roads infrastructure, $5.2 million for road black spot upgrades and $24 million for the roads to recovery program.

A further $1.6 million for interstate road transport spending is the same funding amount as Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

For bridge renewal works, the ACT will receive $3.9 million, slightly more than 1 per cent of the total national funding with just $500,000 delivered next financial year.

Funding for the heavy vehicle safety and productivity program, a road safety measure for freight trucks, sees $1.6 million coming to the ACT.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Fenner MP Andrew Leigh said the ACT had been overlooked for new major transport spending, accusing the Coalition of preferring “National Party boondoggles” like decentralisation of government departments over worthy projects in the national capital.

“For the ACT, the promised infrastructure budget delivers nothing – not even the Barton Highway upgrade the Coalition pledged,” Dr Leigh said.

“Infrastructure spending should be based on benefit-cost analysis, not roads to nowhere to pork barrel Coalition electorates. Under the Liberals, Canberra’s infrastructure spending is stuck in the slow lane.

“For example, investment in the Majura Parkway was a project which had a high benefit-cost pay-off, three-to-one as I recall, but one which would have never been funded by a Coalition government because it passed through a Labor seat.”

ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja defended the budget, saying the ACT government had not attended a briefing on infrastructure funding submissions in November or submitted business cases for any projects.

“Despite this, we are seeing a significant infrastructure investment in the ACT through the $500 million public service modernisation fund and various other projects,” he said.

“The Australian government has committed $3.2 million to construct truck lay-bys on the Federal Highway; $1.2 million to strengthen bridges on the Monaro Highway; and $300,000 to install a travel time information system on arterial roads across the ACT.

“The Monaro Highway and Pialligo are key priorities for the ACT in this budget which includes $3 million towards planning and design works for the Monaro Highway and Pialligo Avenue duplication.

He said Belconnen, Gungahlin, Pialligo, Weston Creek and Woden would benefit from roads funding, while black spot spending would go to Lyneham, Isabella Plains, Braddon, Greenway, Kingston and Forrest.

A new regional Australia policy document released by Regional Development and Territories Minister Fiona Nash on Thursday included only one paragraph on the latest decentralisation push, with no new costings or detail.

The 38-page Regions 2030 statement said the “structured decentralisation” plan would create local jobs, economic diversification and stimulate economic growth.

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Brown drops Ross to Knights’ reservesphotos

Brown drops Ross to Knights’ reserves | photos TweetFacebookRoss, 28, signed a two-year extension in August, believed to be worth around $150,000 a season.And while Brown said he understoodthe current climate for players, he was disappointed with how Ross handled the matter.
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“Firstly, we’re probably in a bit of a rare situation at the minute for all clubs that the[salary] cap is going to rise by a rather large portion, 20 or 25 percent roughly in that vicinity,” he said.

“We haven’t seen this happen since the Super League daysandrightly so,players that are on contract and probably not earning what their current marketvalueis would like to get a piece of the pie.

“And we’ve seenthis at every club, not only the Rossy situation. But there arecertainly ways youhandle it and I’d suggestRossy didn’t handle it in the correct manner.”

Brown’s reaction to Dane Gagai’s ongoing contractnegotiations, which have the Knights sole State of Origin representative linked to the South Sydney Rabbitohs,wasofstark contrast.

“Gags [Gagai] has handled himself great during the whole situation and I’m sure he will continue to handle himself well until a decision is made,” Brown said.

Gagai remains at fullback.

Ross,whose partner Nikea gave birth to their second child on Tuesday, trained alongside his new teammates and against his former ones in an opposed session at Knights headquarters on Thursday morning.

Ross’ spot on the left edge was taken by Brendan Elliot, who now returns to the top grade and will line up next to centre Peter Mata’utia this weekend.

Other changes in the last-placed Newcastle squadmay be forced by injuries sustained from their 34-20 victory over the Canberra Raiders at home on Mother’s Day.

“We’ve got a few blokes carryingniggles,” Brown said.

“Whether they make it or not, we’ll have to wait and see.”

The Knights’second win of 2017 could be costlywith halfback Jaelen Feeney (knee) and utility forward Anthony Tupou (hip) both in doubt after second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon (knee) wasalready ruled out.

Feeney and Tupou have until Saturdayto prove their fitness.

Brown said dumped playmaker Trent Hodkinsonwould replace Feeney.

Jack Stockwell would more than likely slot in for Tupou.

Killer in Manila: Busting a gut to keep up with Pacman

Manny Pacquiao is laying on a mat in the middle of the foyer of his $18 million Manila mansion and he is busting out 1300 crunches.
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As you do. Thirteen hundred.

These are his “morning crunches”. He’ll do the same amount in the afternoon. His “afternoon crunches”.

Next week, when he ramps up his preparation for the July 2 fight against Queenslander Jeff Horn in Brisbane, he will do double that. I wasn’t good at maths at school but that’s 5200 crunches for the day. He says he’s been doing these morning and afternoon crunches everyday for his entire boxing career.

Me? I’m just watching him do his crunches because the road run earlier has absolutely busted me. It doesn’t take much these days.

Pacquiao smashed out two laps around the manicured streets of Forbes Park – a gated estate considered the Beverly Hills of Manila – in 23 minutes for a total distance of about five kilometres.

I had an asthma attack after a kilometre, tried to take a short cut down a side street but got lost and had to ask several people for directions to make my way back to the front of Pacquiao’s home, just as he completed his second circuit.

When Pacquiao returned from his run, he then went through ladder and hurdle work with one of his strength and conditioning trainers.

Next week, his Australian fitness coach Justin Fortune arrives. Fortune once described Pacquiao as a “physical freak”. Now you can see why. “Today is not heavy,” Pacquiao, 38, says later. “It’s light. We’re not in the hard training yet so, after this week, it will be hard.”

How much more?

“Three laps and more ladder work.”

What about the gut work? Ever get sick of that?

“Nice, I like that, so my body keeps in shape. I do it morning and afternoon my whole career.”

What about the Aussie guys?

“They’re good.”

(For the record, my colleague from The Australian, Brent Read, beat the Pacman home on the first circuit and did all the gut work with him, too. He’s presently in bed and not expected to surface for two days).

Crunch time: Pacquiao busts out one of 2600 ab crunches for the day in his Manila mansion. Photo: Chris Hyde

After avoiding the Australian media all day on Wednesday, Pacquiao could not have been more accommodating on Thursday, allowing us into some parts of his palatial home.

A few things stood out. He has a passion for chess and there are expensive chess boards dotted around the home. There are trophies behind his desk, along with a folded up American flag and other signed photos and memorabilia.

In a glass case sits a policeman’s hat, given to him as an honorary officer of the Manila police force. Given how many of them now have jobs with him as part of his security detail, it barely surprises.

Wearing his pollie hat

On Wednesday night, a different Pacquiao was hard at work. The Honourable Emmanuel D Pacquiao sat in the Philippine Senate and passionately argued his case for a new national boxing commission.

In March, Pacquiao tried to introduce a bill setting up the Philippine Boxing Commission, even though an agency already exists in this country. Evidently, it is not doing enough.

“That’s my goal: to put up a boxing commission in the Philippines,” he said on Thursday. “So it is more regulated and supervised. There have been some boxers who have died. A lot of friends of mine are injured. There is no medical check-up.”

He was then asked if, as a devout Christian, he ever worried about hurting his opponents.

“It’s nothing personal – I am doing my job,” he said.

Not every Manila local is as enamoured with Pacquiao, the politician, as much as Pacquiao, the boxer. As one cab driver said to me: “As a politician he makes a great boxer!”

Basketball also a passion

One of the men in Pacquiao’s corner and on Thursday morning’s road run was Mermann Flores, his full-time basketball skills coach. They met in 2015 while playing a match at an underground court under a church in Los Angeles.

“Before, I could guard him,” Flores said of Pacquiao, who plays point guard. “Now I can barely defend him.”

Pacquiao adores basketball as much as boxing. He’s a noted Boston Celtics fan and he will call up current and former Filipino professional players for matches here in Manila.

Do they ever take it easy on the 11-time world champion and national hero? “Only if it’s near fight time,” Flores grinned.

Fonz among the stars

Forget about the odd NRL player turning up for the Horn-Pacquiao fight – the Fonz is coming!

Yes, Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame is expected to headline a stack of Hollywood celebrities coming to the bout. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Wahlberg as well as boxing greats George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and “Marvellous” Marvin Hagler are all lined up to attend.

Ticket sales for the July 2 fight are going strongly. According to Horn’s promoter, Duco Events, 37,000 seats have already been sold and corporate support is also very strong.

That means it has gone past the 30,000 that saw Jeff Fenech fight Azumah Nelson at Princes Park in Melbourne in 1992 and a similar crowd for the Danny Green-Anthony Mundine fight at Allianz Stadium in 2006. Pacquiao’s promoters are desperate for a crowd of about 55,000 to be there for the Horn fight, which would be the largest he’s ever fought in front of.

The Queenslanders are sure to love him when they hear what Pacquiao had to say about Origin.

“Go Blues!” he said with a smile. If Laurie Daley is looking for a halfback option who will respond well to any “Cattledog” call, I’ve found him.

Ali still the legend

Pacquiao is a hero but the late Muhammad Ali remains a legend. Some still speak fondly of his 1975 fight, the “Thrilla in Manila”, Ali’s incredible win over Joe Frazier at the Araneta Coliseum. A mall built in his honour was built and opened the following year. Question & Answer: Mark Hughes

We speak to the Knights legend ahead of the Beanies for Brain Cancer Round in the NRL.

When were you diagnosed, mate?

In August 2013. I was 36. I had headaches and before I knew it I was in John Hunter Hospital getting a tumour removed and into chemo and radiotherapy.

Worthy cause: Mark Hughes and Danny Buderus don their headgear in Newcastle ahead of the NRL’s Beanies for Brain Cancer round. Photo: Marina Neil

You’ve turned it into a massive positive. What is something your foundation as done.

Matt Callander is a great example. Mid-40s: One minute he’s going along fine and the next minute he’s struck down and it’s a tough road. Brain cancer is the biggest cancer killer of people under-40s. Yet it gets less than five per cent of government funding. The only way to try to change that is research. The Mark Hughes Foundation was formed to raise money. We’ve sent researchers on travel grants overseas, we’ve put a bio bank ??? a massive freezer that stores tumours ??? for research, a brain cancer care nurse in Newcastle, we’ve taken another guy off the tools to do research and we’re hoping to get another person at Royal North Shore researching it.

So you’ve been taking it easy.

Real easy mate! I face cancer all the time now, people all have their stories wherever I go, and that’s what I’ve signed up for.

What about the fundraising?

We did Kokoda last year. The big one this year is base camp at Everest. There’s a theme from the 1997 grand final. Our coach that year, Malcolm Reilly, is coming. The Johns brothers, Chief, Matt Gidley, Billy Peden … We’ve got two spots left on that trip. It’s on an auction list on our website. We have this round of the NRL coming up but we also have our Beanies for Brain Cancer Week (June 19-23) where schools, sports teams, businesses, can all participate.

The 1997 grand final. When did you have your last drink?

I was 20 at the time. We just rode that emotion for as long as we could. We did street parades through Cessnock and Maitland, it was incredible.

The legend has it you were the last man standing.

The legend has it that way and I’m not going to stand in the way of that. The story goes my big mate Chief (Paul Harragon) fell asleep in front of the toilets and people couldn’t get in. I hooked him up under my arm ??? we must’ve looked like the Winfield Cup ??? and we staggered out the door and everyone rose as one and applauded.

For more information go to 梧桐夜网markhughesfoundation南京夜网419论坛. The week

The Quote

“Is it his next fight or next contract?” ??? The Filipino masseuse at Singapore Airport when told you were on your way to Manila to interview Manny Pacquiao. (The connecting flight was delayed!)

Thumbs Up

Cancer, you evil [expletive]. But if there is one tiny silver lining it is the extraordinary courage it draws out and on that score Brett Kimmorley’s emotional interview on Fox Sports’ League Life about the death of his wife Sharnie was as brave as it gets. Broke your heart but made it swell, all at the same time.

Thumbs Down

The first word that popped into my head when I saw the Sportsbet ad featuring disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson was “vomit”. We’re all for tongue-in-cheek humour around here but paying a bloke who doped at the Olympics to spruik your betting products? Really, fellas? Who’s next? Lance Armstrong? Marion Jones?

It’s a big weekend for ??? Blues coach Laurie Daley and adviser Peter Sterling as they finalise the NSW team for Origin I. It will be announced at the True Blues function on Monday night.

It’s an even bigger weekend for ??? Will Hopoate, a devout Mormon who will lace up the footy boots this Sunday for the Bulldogs against the Roosters after refusing to play on Sundays in the past.

The author travelled to Manila courtesy of Duco Events.

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Shorten says alleged tax fraud builds case for federal ICAC

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Labor leader Bill Shorten has suggested an alleged $165 million tax fraud, potentially one of the biggest cases of white collar fraud in Australian history, helps build the case for a federal corruption watchdog.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday congratulated the Australian Federal Police for the investigation, declaring the government had “zero tolerance for this type of conspiracy, this type of fraud, this type of abuse of public office”.

Senior federal police and Australian Taxation Office officials are likely to be bombarded with questions on the matter at next week’s Senate estimates hearings. A parliamentary inquiry is also on the cards.

Seven alleged syndicate members have been charged, including Adam Cranston, 30, and his sister, Lauren Anne Cranston, 24. Their father, ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, has been issued a future court attendance notice for the charge of abusing his position as a public official.

Mr Shorten said while all facts of the case needed to be established, there were questions of competence for the government to answer.

“It would be remiss of me to comment on the individual matters, although they are clearly very concerning. I don’t want to impinge upon anyone’s rights, nor do I want to impinge upon the prosecution if the wrong thing’s happened,” he said.

“But clearly here, down the track there will have to be questions of competence for the government to answer. And I also think it makes Labor’s support for having a Senate committee investigating the merit of a National Integrity Commission seem quite on the money.”

The Greens have long backed the establishment of a federal corruption watchdog.

Mr Turnbull described the alleged fraud as “very, very much to be regretted”.

“People who break our laws – whether it is endeavouring to defraud the Commonwealth and the tax system, whether it is planning terror plots, whether it’s trafficking in drugs – our police, our agencies will catch them,” he said. “Catch them, prosecute them and bring the full weight of the law down to bear on them.

“It is a credit to the police that the matter has been identified and charges have been laid. We are ever vigilant. You cannot be ever complacent about any aspect of integrity in public life or in government. So we have a relentless pursuit of corruption, malpractice, abuse of office. The AFP have a very keen focus on it, I can assure you, as has been demonstrated.”

The acting commissioner of the ATO, Andrew Mills, said in a statement he had commissioned an investigation into alleged staff involvement.

“I cannot overstate the seriousness of these matters – Australians must have a tax administration they can trust and the people of the ATO must be of utmost integrity and good judgment,” he said.

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Queensland considers $320m royalty relief for Adani mine

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The Queensland Labor government has held the door open to providing Indian mining conglomerate Adani with hundreds of millions of dollars in financial relief to help get its Carmichael coal mine into production.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt did not deny a report on Thursday that a $320 million “royalties holiday” was on the table to help progress the $21 billion project, but he insisted “no decision has been made on anything”.

An ABC report suggested Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would agree to charge Adani just $2 million a year for “several years” before a higher rate kicked in.

During the 2015 state election campaign, Ms Palaszczuk accused then premier Campbell Newman of “throwing a bucket of taxpayers’ cash” at Adani.

In a statement, Adani said Queensland governments of all stripes had previously “used royalty agreements to enable such projects”.

“Adani welcomes this approach,” the company said.

Mr Pitt insisted the state government was not interested in ad hoc arrangements and would provide an “open and transparent framework” for all proponents while still recognising “first mover advantage” to open up areas such as the Galilee.

“There’s no deal in place, because there has been no decision made on anything,” he said.

“The Premier has been clear today, and I will reiterate: no taxpayer funds will be provided to Adani to support the construction of a rail line … I will also say that Adani will pay every cent of royalties that is owed to the state.”

He would not comment on whether what Adani would owe in future could include a discounted royalty structure.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said royalties were a matter for the state, but renewed his warning that “if we don’t sell [coal] to [India], someone else will”.

Queensland takes a 7 per cent royalty on every tonne of coal when the price is below $100 a tonne, rising to 12.5 per cent up to $150 a tonne and 15 per cent after that.

Thermal coal currently sells for about $97 a tonne, according to the RB Index, and Queensland received about $2 billion in revenues from coal producers in the past year.

Australian Conservation Foundation president Geoff Cousins expressed disbelief at the prospect of financial relief for the mine.

“That would be disgraceful and I would have thought impossible – just a step too far,” he said.

ACF is one of 130 groups involved in trying to stop Adani.

According to sources, Mr Turnbull’s office took a call on average every five minutes on Wednesday from people registering their opposition to the Carmichael mine.

Meanwhile, a Victorian MP has become the first member of Labor’s federal caucus to openly oppose the development of Carmichael.

Peter Khalil, a member of the Right faction who was backed by Bill Shorten’s Australian Workers’ Union for his seat of Wills, told local environmentalists he did not want to see the mine opened.

“Given the environmental and commercial question marks, I do not think this mine will go ahead, nor should it go ahead,” he wrote to Climate Action Moreland.

That stance puts him at loggerheads with Mr Shorten and shadow resources spokesman Jason Clare, who have given support to Carmichael as long as public money is not spent subsidising it, including the construction of a rail line from the Galilee to Abbot Point port on the Queensland coast.

Labor energy and environment spokesman Mark Butler has been less enthusiastic, claiming Carmichael would just “displace” other mines and cost jobs elsewhere in the sector.

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Thompson single-minded

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: The Hawkes stable have employed the skills of Cessnock Hall of Fame jockey Robert Thompson to ride top chance Primavera in Saturday’s fillies maiden plate.Australian and Newcastle Hunter Hall of Fame jockey Robert Thompson has only taken the one ride at the Newcastle Herald race meeting at Broadmeadow on Saturday.
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Trainer Michael Hawkes on Primavera

Thompson has had a good association over the years with the Hawkes family, who train out of Rosehill, and he will be aboard their three-year-old filly Primavera in the 1200 metre three-year-old fillies Maiden Plate.

Primavera , a $520,000 purchase by the successfulChina Horse Club Racing SyndicateandPinecliff Racingat the2015InglisAustralian Eastersales,has raced once this preparation at Gosford on May 4 and was well supported.

A slow start from barrier five had the filly well back early onand she found the line powerfully behindFlame Of Love.

For this second-up assignment, she is ideally drawn in barrier four and will appreciate the spaciousNewcastlecircuit.

Michael Hawkes, a co-trainer with his father and brother, said on Thursday that he expected the filly to win this race.

“We are taking her toNewcastlehoping that she can win as she will be sold at the Magic Millions sale at the Gold Coast next month,” he said.

“Her first-up run at Gosford was full of merit and this is a lovely race for her.

“She is a blue blood by champion Australian sire Redoute’s Choice and her dam Flame Of Sydney is a very good producer.

“We’ve engaged Robert for the ride as he rides most of our horses at the Saturday Newcastle meetings when he is available.”

Primavera’s main threat looks to be formerQueenslandfilly Bucasia, which is having her first start forNewcastletrainer Paul Perry.

Bucasia has only had the one start atQueensland’sSunshineCoaston April 2 when she finished second when in the care of David Vandyke.

Since entering Perry’s stable the filly was highly impressive in a recentNewcastlebarrier trial win. Unfortunately, she has drawn barrier 13 at the tricky 1200m start where the run to the first bend is abbreviated.

Jockey Paul King will need to have navigational skills honed to a premium on the daughter of Mossman but from what was she showed in her trial on May 10, she’s capable of winning in the very near future.

Magistrate demands more details on siege

TENSE: Natalie Ann Gouverneur appeared in Cessnock Local Court on Thursday in relation to a tense eight-hour siege at Laguna on Tuesday night. Thick fog blanketed the remote property during the standoff. Picture: 9 News POLICE say Natalie Ann Gouverneur was encouraging and even “motivating” alleged gunmanAndrew Kenneth Readingto shoot at police during a tense eight-hour siege at a remote property at Laguna on Tuesday night.
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But her barrister, David Pullinger, claims Ms Gouverneur was asleep on the couch with her dogs during much of the ordeal and her only confrontation with police was to tell the officers camped outside to identify themselves by “flashing their red and blue lights”.

Those police includedheavily armed specialist officers from the tactical operations unit along with an armoured “Bearcat”.

And after hearing about 20 minutes of a bail application for Ms Gouverneur, Magistrate John Chicken wanted to know more about the strength of the prosecution case before deciding whether to release her or not.

“The strength of the Crown case would seem to be in a single paragraph in relation to this accused,” Mr Chicken told the police prosecutor, referring to the police facts.

Ms Gouverner, 46, of Martinsville,appeared in Cessnock Local Court on Thursday dressed in the orange jumper and trackpants she was wearing when she was arrested at the homestead on Murrays Run Road on Wednesday morning.

She pleaded not guilty to discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest and discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The court heard the prosecution was relying on the principle of joint criminal enterprise in relation to Ms Gouverneur’s charges.

“In relation to Ms Gouverneur, police allege that there is sufficient information to confirm she was well aware what was occurring on the presence of police at the location,” Mr Chicken said, reading from the policefacts.

“[Ms Gouverneur] made no efforts to dissuade or prevent the actions of Mr Reading even going so far as to inflame the situation and motivate Mr Reading.

“Where is the evidence in the material for that?”

With nothing more than the police facts tosubstantiate the allegations, which Mr Chicken said were “incredibly serious”, he adjourned the matter to Friday so police could “flesh out the facts” and he could properly weigh up the strength of the prosecution’s case.

Mr Reading, who is accused of firing the .243 rifle at police, did not appear in court on Thursday or apply for bail.

The 46-year-old has been charged with discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest, discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and two counts of not keeping a firearm safe.

His matter was also adjourned to Friday.

Climate change debate looms for Nationals conference

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 20 April 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesAn emissions intensity scheme could become official policy of the NSW Nationals on Friday, a move that would represent a split from the federal leadership and a challenge to the Turnbull government’s climate change agenda.
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After the state’s Young Nationals backed the contentious proposal in April, the motion will be on the agenda at the party’s annual conference, a two-day gathering that will draw hundreds of rank-and-file supporters, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

The call for a national emissions intensity scheme will be hotly contested as will the removal of abortion from the NSW Crimes Act and an increased Syrian refugee intake.

The policy battles highlight the generational evolution taking place within the party, which is deeply conservative at a parliamentary level but more socially and environmentally progressive among younger members.

Jess Price-Purnell, chair of the NSW Young Nationals, said rural and regional Australians could see climate change happening and younger residents were generally more open-minded.

“I’ve got a child and am pregnant with a second and I’d quite like them to be able to breathe the air and drink the water when they grow up,” Ms Price-Purnell said.

“I’m not happy to sit by and do nothing. I’m a big believer in changing things that need to be changed. Even if the motion doesn’t get up, we’re excited about starting the conversation about future-proofing ourselves and our energy security.”

Several attendees said it was difficult to predict the outcome of the vote but said the motion had attracted strong support and had a good chance of passing. One source predicted “probably not but I wouldn’t stake my life on that”.

The chair of the party’s NSW Women’s Council, Claire Coulton, said many farmers were concerned about the implications of climate change for the bush.

“We absolutely need a proactive stance, whether or not that’s an emissions trading scheme, the important thing is that we’re debating it so that people understand it’s important,” Ms Coulton told Fairfax Media.

Ms Coulton is the daughter of Mark Coulton, the Nationals MP for Parkes, who stands with Mr Joyce in opposing stronger action on climate change.

Small Business Minister Michael McCormack, a senior NSW National, said industry did not need another version of a carbon tax but welcomed free-flowing and “vigorous” grassroots debate.

“While I appreciate we need to work towards a lower emissions economy, we can do it ways other than starting a process which may well end up an impost on business, on farmers and families,” he said.

An emissions intensity scheme would impose limits on how much a power station can freely emit. Cleaner generators that emit less than the limit earn credits, and sell them to high-emitting generators above the baseline.

Mr Joyce has expressed disbelief in climate change science and said he was “surprised” when the NSW youth wing backed an emissions intensity scheme.

Late last year, after saying all options were on the table in a review of Australia’s future energy sources, Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg was quickly forced to rule out an EIS following a backbench backlash.

The NSW Young Nationals also broke with their federal leaders in 2015, calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage and a free vote in the Coalition party room.

Mr Joyce, NSW party leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will address the conference on Friday.

Among a total 65 motions to be debated, others concern a royal commission into the banks, mental health, needs-based schools funding and electricity prices.

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