Monthly Archives: September 2019

Kids and their fathers agree: Dad’s working too much

A new study from the Australian National University has found a third of Australian children believe their dads work too much.

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The research showed children aged between 11 and 13 years said their fathers worked too much, blaming long hours, night work and weekend shifts.

Lead researcher professor Lyndall Strazdins said it was the first study that compared both the child’s and their father’s opinion on dad’s work life balance.

“Fathers and children are agreeing on what the aspects of his job are actually making it hard [to get time together],” Ms Strazdins said.

Mr Strazdins said the culprits were fathers working long hours: either long days at the office or being called to work weekends.

“Fathers had lots of time pressures on them at their job […] that also affected children’s perception of time with their fathers,” Ms Strazdins said.

One in eight kids wished dad didn’t work, while 40 per cent of fathers worked nights or weekends and felt they couldn’t change their work hours.

Ms Strazdins said studies had already shown long hours were detrimental to health and gender quality.

“This is part of a national debate we need to keep having,” she said.

The research showed it wasn’t a problem unique to white collar jobs, affecting workers across the board.

Half of the fathers surveyed worked more than 44 hours per week, one fifth worked over 55 hours per week.

“This actually then makes it difficult for many fathers to be the fathers they want to be,” Ms Strazdins said.

The study also found 55.9 per cent of dads missed family events, with 20.3 per cent feeling pressured during family time.

Dad Geoff Beckett said he was closer to retirement which allowed him to spend more time with his daughter, Gemelu, 2.

“My work’s online so I get a lot of time with her now,” Mr Beckett said.

“But where as with [my] other kids, I never really knew them.”

Mr Beckett’s work as a contractor earlier in his life meant he was working long hours or on weekends, preventing him from spending more time with his other children as they grew up.

“When you’re contracting, you’ve got to take what you can,” Mr Beckett said.

Ms Strazdins said Australian work place cultures around work expectations for men needed to change.

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Pensioners targeted in $980m ‘robo-debt’ expansion

Older people will be the target of an expanded “robo-debt” collection measure the Department of Human Services has confirmed will raise close to $1 billion.

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Despite the fall-out from the government’s debt collection saga, the DHS will expand the program from July 1 using information from the Tax Office about pensioners’ interest earnings and asset values.

Pension recipients earning interest on term deposits and income from property are expected to shoulder most of the $980 million savings burden the government has projected over the next three years from the expansion of its debt program.

The department will check ATO data against the income and assets clients reported to it to decide whether to pursue debts, DHS officials told senators.

DHS representatives confirmed the $980 million figure at the final hearing of the Senate inquiry into the controversial “robo-debt” program on Thursday, but said that discrepancies in income and assets detected would be manually checked by staff.

Senate committee member and Labor senator Murray Watt said outside the inquiry the government should pause the expansion of its debt collection program.

“No one has been able to convince this inquiry that this system has been running so smoothly that we aren’t going to see a whole bunch of new problems emerge on July 1 with this expansion, with a particularly vulnerable group of Australians being older people,” he said.

Department secretary Kathryn Campbell described the expanded debt collection measures, announced in the mid-year financial outlook in January, as the DHS told the Senate committee it made $70 million more than expected in the first year of the maligned “robo-debt” program.

Amid some pointed exchanges with senators, department officials defended its payment of debt collectors using commission – a practice of payday lenders – and said letters sent to Centrelink clients about income discrepancies were “initial clarification letters”, not debt notices.

When asked the correct term for an “error” in sending a letter, Ms Campbell said: “They’re initial clarification letters where the recipient or former recipient has been able to provide clarification which means there is no need to continue with the process”.

The DHS was sending 10,000 letters a week due to constraints of registered post, down from 20,000 a week earlier in the program.

Referring to ATO data used to compare with DHS records of welfare recipients’ employment in identifying possible debts, officials admitted it was difficult to know when they had been employed in a financial year if the Tax Office didn’t detail specific periods of employment.

The government expects to save $4.5 billion in total from its data-matching program.

The Senate Committee is expected to release its report into the “robo-debt” system in June.

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Football’s lost years in Tasmania

The magnitude of what the AFL lost when it turned its back on Tasmania some two decades ago was not lost on anyone among the 500 who attended Wednesday night’s celebration of Tasmanian Football.

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In fact anyone lucky enough to move from Lou Richards’ state funeral earlier in the day to the unique Tasmanian football function at the other end of town ended their day emotionally drenched not so much with sadness but melancholy – nostalgia for a football time that somehow disappeared from within our grasp when we weren’t concentrating.

Chris Fagan, the Queenstown boy who became a hall of famer in his home state and now Brisbane Lions coach, captured the so-called “elephant in the room” when he declared there was a “higher purpose” facing head office. That higher purpose said Fagan was not about marketing or economics.

“I’m talking about heritage and culture and legacy,” said Fagan, a panellist at the function alongside fellow Tasmanians Rodney Eade and Brendon Bolton. “The AFL won’t be truly complete until there is a Tasmanian team. They [the AFL] would do a magnificent thing if they were to have a Tasmanian team.” Peter Hudson presented the narrative, Alastair Lynch the interviews which featured Nick Riewoldt and his equally passionate Tasmanian cousin Jack, a keynote speech by Matthew Richardson, who lovingly described a football pathway journeying along north-west Tasmania that he fears is no longer available to children from his home state.

Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow represented the increasingly rare example of a young Tasmanian footballer in the AFL, while the Robert Shaw-coached state team including Scott Clayton, Graham Wright, Simon Atkins and the Gale brothers that defeated Victoria took the stage.

Triple Brownlow medallist Ian Stewart, a rare public performer moved to speech by what he witnessed, declared his ongoing embarrassment whenever he is compared to the “greatest footballer I’ve seen” Darrel Baldock – whose grandchildren attended the function. Of the three living Tasmanian Australian Football Hall of Fame legends only Royce Hart failed to show.

But none of the above compared with the montage of ovals across the state from Penguin to Sandy Bay, football ovals by rivers and along the coast and nestling into historic building and featuring empty club rooms – ovals where, according to the Tasmanian Football Foundation’s James Henderson, football is no longer played.

If ever the message was to resonate it was on Wednesday night. AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, two other league commissioners, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman and four other AFL executives along with the presidents of Hawthorn and North Melbourne all attended.

McLachlan restated his support for a single Tasmanian team, a view he has to date failed to act upon. The sight of all those historic grounds lying empty when the Sydney and GWS reserves struggle to find grounds to play on could not have been lost on the game’s decision-makers. Still this was not a night of recriminations or finger-pointing; more celebration and hope.

“My view has been a single united Tasmanian team and I’ve been very public about that,” said McLachlan, urging Tasmanians not to give up on their dream of a stand-alone team before entering the Crown function.

“…The biggest challenge to a single model is the two incumbents with long-term deals and we respect those. There is no easy solution other than just working towards a prosperous football state and working with all the stakeholders.” The problem being that those AFL club stakeholders being Hawthorn and North Melbourne – particularly Hawthorn who first went to Tasmania 16 years ago -have proved significantly more interested in taking money out of the state than putting football in.

How else do you explain the fact that no Tasmanian player was drafted last year? The beautiful but stark and empty ovals – some no longer in existence? The fact that the Hawks did not even bother to apply for a women’s licence the first time around or engage with the state in a united push?

McLachlan’s task in part involves negotiating the Hawks out of Tasmania – which will come at a price – unless that club is prepared to play football across the state. Or convince the Kangaroos with their new multicultural Tasmanian academy to do the same.

Again, where North is concerned, it’s all largely about the money.

Should the new deal at Etihad Stadium prove as generous as the Docklands home clubs had hoped, there is no chance the Kangaroos will play more than three home games in Tasmania. Should they prove successful in enlisting the help of that state in gaining a women’s licence, the state government should insist upon naming the club the Tasmanian Kangaroos.

More preferable altogether would be a stand-alone Tasmanian women’s team. And, as impossible as it seems now, an AFL men’s team. The irony was that two of the three Tasmanian-bred coaches who appeared on stage in Eade and Fagan coach the AFL’s two biggest problem children.

And as Andrew Demetriou said recently, if the Gold Coast will only ever be a modest football club why not consider Tasmania and the potential membership of tens of thousands of expats as a fall-back position should the AFL’s clout and that of the Suns’ new CEO Mark Evans fail to ignite the competition’s 17th club?

Still, as one elder statesman of the Tasmanian cause pointed out last night, the baton has been handed over. Perhaps the passion shared by a group including the Riewoldts, Richo and the significant clout of the Tasmanian Football Foundation, combined with McLachlan’s stated philosophy, will finally shift the game’s thinking.

And the view that the game cannot grow without a game each week in southern Queensland might not prove the deal breaker it was a decade ago. That perhaps ploughing millions of dollars into a small and financially struggling state bursting with football heritage and passion and creating its own AFL side could actually succeed.

Certainly the prospect of a Tasmanian team in the AFL does not seem as unthinkable as a national women’s league televised in prime time and actually winning its time slot did even five years ago.

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Loss of respect has made Grant’s position near untenable

There’s a perception in clubland and the wider game that there won’t be peace at the NRL until John Grant is no longer at the helm.

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When something goes wrong, Grant is the first person blamed. Rightly or wrongly, there’s so much animosity towards the ARLC chairman that his position has become almost untenable.

There’s no doubt the clubs will try to take advantage of the latest broken promise to remove him from power, but just as quickly as they have turned on him, most will change their minds if he manages to get the money back on the table.

But therein lies the problem.

Ultimately, in giving in to the demands of the clubs to save his job last year, or so it goes, Grant lost the one thing needed to make sure he could be successful leading the sport into the future – their respect. One chairman said: “He’s an honourable man but a gutless leader.”

Back to that broken promise. It all began when Grant agreed to set the club funding at 130 per cent of the salary cap for next season.

It was assumed the salary cap would be $10m, providing the clubs with an additional $3m to run their operations. But soon after making that commitment, the NRL realised the game wouldn’t be able to cope with a salary cap of $10m without running into cashflow problems. The clubs say the NRL would easily be able to afford to fund the clubs to the tune of $13m each if it had not wasted money elsewhere.

Grant took the offer off the table but offered an olive branch – he would give the clubs $13m regardless of the limit set for the salary cap. Naturally, the poorer clubs who had been looking to solve cashflow concerns – such as Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra, began pushing for a lower salary cap so the clubs’ share of the money went up.

But the wealthier clubs, such as the Bulldogs and the Roosters, were lobbying for an increased salary cap so they could go out on spending sprees to strengthen their teams and fight for a premiership. That divided the clubs. But when the NRL announced on Wednesday that the cashflow problems had already surfaced and would leave the clubs around $1.5m short on payments for next year, the frustrated clubs were united once more.

One of the chief gripes? It’s not as if the NRL doesn’t have the money. The governing body has put around $100m aside for grassroots rugby league and another $150m aside to invest in its digital media strategy over the next five years.

The NRL believes its digital media strategy is essential given its fears that the game will not have television networks lining up with open cheque books when the next broadcast rights deal is negotiated.

But most clubs don’t see it as a priority. And certainly not at that price. They are frustrated, at best, that the NRL refuses to divert a small portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars it spends on grassroots and digital media to fund the clubs to the tune of $13m.

The game’s total annual revenue is in the region of $500m. If each club received $13m in funding, it would cost the league $208m. That would leave $292m to spend on operational costs, including $50m per year in digital and grassroots funding. The clubs believe if the NRL can’t make that work, they are being reckless with their spending.

Which brings us to this point. At 9.07pm on Wednesday night, just a few hours after proposing that they phase out club payments over six years instead of the agreed five to cover for the shortfall, NRL chief Todd Greenberg sent an email to all clubs bosses and chairs.

He sensed panic. He knew they were about to revolt. So he assured them the NRL would do everything in its power to source the money to follow through on the commitment Grant had made.

The likely solution to the current impasse is that the NRL will go to major sponsor like Telstra or a bank and ask for a loan, knowing full well the interest paid by the NRL during that time will only reduce the amount it forks out to the sport.

Another gripe of the clubs was that the NRL waited until the majority of the chairmen – who are viewed as the antagonists – left Wednesday’s meeting before unveiling the proposal to the chief executives. That was perceived as weak.

So where to now? Well, the chairman – who this time last week were separated into two factions – are planning to meet next week to discuss the possibility of calling an EGM to vote for Grant to be removed as ARLC chairman.

They only need one club to call the EGM, but they need a majority of members, which is made up of the 16 clubs, two states and six commissioners, to remove Grant.

Problem is, the two NRL-owned clubs, Newcastle and the Gold Coast, are unlikely to vote with them. That’s why plans to remove Grant failed last time. But the majority clubs hope another public humiliation could force him to walk, in any case.

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Ivanka Trump chided over $US1-an-hour pay allegations

Ivanka Trump’s apparel brand is facing criticism from a labour-rights group for relying on Chinese factories that it says force some employees to work long shifts at the equivalent of about a dollar an hour.

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The nonprofit organisation China Labor Watch said it investigated two Chinese factories that produce goods for Ivanka Trump’s brand. It then shared its findings in a letter sent to the first daughter, saying employees are forced to work at least 12 1/2 hours a day and at least six days a week — at a monthly salary of about 2,500 yuan ($475).

The letter didn’t provide evidence for the claims, and the group declined to identify the factories and the items they make, saying its probe was still underway. China Labor Watch previously identified labour violations at a Chinese toymaker used by Walt Disney, leading the entertainment giant to sever ties with the factory. It has also investigated plants used by Apple.

China Labor Watch said it has yet to receive a response from the letter, which was dated April 27.

Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said the company complies with labour standards and added it is “impossible for us to respond to allegations, with no supporting evidence, concerning an unnamed factory.”

“Ivanka Trump HQ is committed to only working with licensees who maintain internationally recognised labor standards across their supply chains,” she said in an emailed statement. “Our licensees and their manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers must comply with all applicable local and international labor laws, and the legal and ethical practices set forth in our vendor code of conduct.”

The criticism threatens to renew questions over Ivanka Trump’s brand and its use of offshore production. When campaigning for president, Donald Trump made the restoration of domestic manufacturing a key tenet of his platform. Since then, his daughter has stepped away from overseeing her brand in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest. She is now an unpaid federal employee, serving as an assistant to the president. Paid by piece

At one Chinese factory that produces Ivanka Trump-branded goods, workers are paid according to the number of pieces they make, said Li Qiang, founder of New York-based China Labor Watch. The staff must work overtime to reach the target with no extra pay if the quota isn’t met, according to Li, whose group probed the two facilities between May 2016 and April 2017. Some workers get the equivalent of less than $US1 per hour, he said.

Staff is given one or two days off per month during the peak season at both facilities, according to the group. And there’s no safety training, even though employees are in contact with oils and glues during the production, the organisation said.

Li estimates that the branded-products make up less than 5 per cent of both facilities’ total orders.

Bloomberg

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Members of alleged tax fraud syndicate released on bail

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 18: Adam Cranston leaves Sydney Police centre after being released on bail over a tax fraud on May 18, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel MunozAfter watching police seize the vintage race car from his eastern suburbs apartment, Adam Cranston opted for a less-luxurious mode of transport to take him home after posting $300,000 bail.

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Clutching his belongings in an Australian Federal Police-marked plastic bag, Mr Cranston loitered in the foyer of the Sydney Police Centre on Thursday afternoon as a wall of cameras waited outside. Unlike his co-accused, the 30-year-old embarked on the long walk towards the media throng solo, before jumping into a waiting Mitsubishi Magna.

He stayed silent as reporters threw questions at him about his alleged involvement in a $165 million fraud racket and his Australian Taxation Office deputy commissioner father.

It’s alleged Michael Cranston accessed restricted information on an ATO audit for his son, but police do not believe he knew about his son’s alleged fraud syndicate.

Adam Cranston was the fourth of his co-accused to walk out on bail on Thursday after an AFP sting targeting white collar crime a day earlier.

Dressed in a black sweat shirt and cargo shorts, Chris Gullian emerged from the police complex on Thursday afternoon with his father.

Initially responding “no comment”, he was asked what he did with the alleged proceeds of his role in the scheme.

“What money are you referring to guys?” he scoffed. “I’m from Sutherland.” He then cheekily suggested the cameramen following him best return to the front of the police station, as the “other guy” was coming out.

Mr Gullian is charged with dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime and was released on $100,000 bail.

Daniel Rostankovski made a fumbled attempt to cover his face before his lawyer, who picked him up from the police station, advised him otherwise.

The 28-year-old, accused of recruiting straw directors in the alleged fraud scheme, opted for a walk up to Oxford Street in his white track pants rather than hailing a taxi outside the station.

Wahroonga tax lawyer and accountant Dev Menon, who police allege gave advice to syndicate members about how the scheme should be managed, was greeted by his mother and father as he walked out of Newtown police station.

Hours earlier the 33-year-old sighed relief as a magistrate granted him bail after his father, a solicitor and engineer, offered a $100,000 surety.

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‘Noble compromise’ will emerge on Indigenous recognition: Pearson

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Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has predicted a “noble compromise” will be reached on Indigenous recognition in the constitution, with a referendum question hitting a “sweet spot” between ambition and realism, and between conservatism and liberalism.

The Cape York leader believes a clear position will emerge from next week’s Indigenous constitutional convention at Uluru and has challenged the nation’s political leaders to have the courage to deal with it and “put a winnable proposition to the Australian people”.

Mr Pearson has also applauded a proposal from Warren Mundine to recognise local and regional Aboriginal bodies in the constitution as a “crucial contribution” ahead of the four-day convention.

“Warren is thinking practically about how to win a referendum on substantive constitutional recognition. His contribution is important, and takes the discussion to the next level,” Mr Pearson will say at an event to launch the idea on Friday.

Mr Mundine, the former head of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, has proposed a variation on the more contentious idea of enshrining a national Indigenous body in the constitution as a voice to Parliament.

Conservatives are more likely to embrace the Mundine variation because it would not involve setting up a new apparatus and it aims to empower existing bodies. Whether it will meet the expectations of convention delegates is unclear.

It has support from Liberal MP Tim Wilson, who described it as “a much closer representation of what mainstream Australian would support and accept”.

In an essay outlining his proposal, Mr Mundine writes: “Each of our mobs needs to get governance in place. It’s got to be transparent, and it has to be very clearly directed.

“Then the government should start negotiating with the mob to reach an agreement which could be the basis for the Parliament establishing a local body for each mob according to the agreement it has reached with the government.

“The constitution should require the Parliament to do this. That would provide true recognition for each of our mobs.”

Mr Pearson said the Mundine proposal resonated with his long-held belief that self-determination, correctly understood, is about our peoples’ right to take responsibility. “That is what constitutional recognition should structurally encourage and enable,” he said.

He told Fairfax Media he had attended at least seven of 12 Indigenous dialogues leading up the the convention and is “staggering pleased” with what has emerged, and with the leadership shown at the dialogues by Pat Anderson and Megan Davis.

“We’ve had very significant Indigenous female leadership over the decades, but I think this is the one time where I think two women have really carried the leadership on this process,” he said.

“I see next week as 12 pieces of the jigsaw from all parts of the country coming together into a united position, a single whole. The outcome I’m hoping for is a very clear statement of what Indigenous Australia wants in a reform agenda.

“The process following Uluru has got to involve Indigenous representatives sitting down and negotiating with the parliamentary parties about what specific referendum question is to be put in a bill and put to the Australian people.”

Pressed on the Mundine proposal, Mr Pearson said there had been overwhelming support for a representative body or voice to the Parliament at the dialogues and he expected there to be varied views on what form it should take.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have “respectfully declined” an invitation to attend next week’s historic convention, wary that their presence could reduce the prospects of a successful outcome.

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Rolf Harris to be released from prison ahead of court appearance

London: Rolf Harris will be released from prison on Friday but back in court by Monday to face a fresh trial over allegations of groping teenage girls.

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Harris is to be released from Stafford prison on Friday, having served time for convictions in 2014, but has been ordered to appear in-person at court on Monday where he is facing four counts of indecent assault.

The 87-year-old has been attending his trial via video link which the jury learnt for the first time on Thursday was from Stafford Prison in Britain’s West Midlands. Judge Deborah Taylor granted the Australian entertainer bail on Thursday after it was sought by his barristers and not opposed by the prosecution.

The judge urged the jury, comprising seven women and five men, not to let Harris’ priors convictions or the fact that he had been released on bail affect their judgment of the evidence they are currently hearing at Southwark Crown Court.

“He will no longer be appearing via video link and will be attending what remains of this trial in person from Monday next week,” Judge Taylor said.

Harris is pleading not guilty to all four charges involving three teenage girls relating to three separate incidents dating between 1971 and 1983.

All three women have now testified to the trial which is in its fourth day. The women, who came forward with their allegations independently of each other, all said that in 2012 they told their friends and families that “Rolf will be next” when it was revealed the BBC identity Jimmy Savile was a sexual predator.

The third accuser told the jury that in 1983 when she was 13-years of age, Harris had approached her in a green room at a filming of a BBC Saturday Superstore program and touched her right breast, asking “do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?”

She said the incident lasted about four or five seconds, after which Harris walked away. “I was in shock because I couldn’t comprehend what has just happened.”

She said she immediately told her sister who dismissed her saying “that’s Rolf Harris, don’t be silly.” “She just wouldn’t believe it because it was Rolf Harris,” she said.

The woman said that response had led her not to report the incident. “From my point of view no one was taking it seriously so I didn’t take it any further at that stage.”

But the woman said over the years she would tell “countless” friends and family, whenever Harris came on the television, that “he’s a pervert.”

The court heard the woman first contacted police about the matter on July 7, 2014 which was three days after Harris had been sentenced. She said when Mr Harris had been arrested in 2013 her friends and family had phoned her with the news but she remained reluctant to come forward. “I still felt I wouldn’t be believed,” she said, under cross-examination by Harris’ barrister Stephen Vullo QC.

But she said she felt empowered by Harris’ conviction and began to feel “I might be vindicated.” She emailed police working on Operation Yewtree – the investigation into Savile and others.

“I can’t be the only person, I’ll come forward and offer my help should it be needed,” she told the jury. Her cross-examination continues when the trial resumes on Monday. She is giving evidence via a video link, meaning she will not have to see the musician in person, when he attends his hearing.

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Gallen claims his form warrants NSW Origin selection

He may be in representative retirement, but Paul Gallen reckons his form would still warrant inclusion in the State of Origin opener as he jokingly said he plans to holiday in Queensland during the representative period.

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Gallen and NSW certainty Andrew Fifita helped the Sharks wear down a tiring Johnathan Thurston-less Cowboys at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Thursday night as both ran for almost 200 metres, according to Champion Data.

Gallen made a representative swansong in the final City-Country clash – which descended into an almost farce given the lack of players available – and said he thought he would be capable of joining the likes of Fifita, James Maloney, Wade Graham and Jack Bird in sky blue if he hadn’t hung up the boots after last year’s series loss.

“I think I’m playing good enough,” Gallen said. “I’m not going to say I regret [representative retirement] because I made a commitment to the club, but I think [I deserve to be there if available].

“There are a lot of good young guys there though. I’m back to being a NSW fan. I think if we win the first game we’ll win the series.”

Gallen also gave the nod to Sharks flyer Valentine Holmes to tip out Brisbane’s Corey Oates for the vacant Queensland wing spot as Cronulla prepare to lose up to five players to the interstate series.

“He’s an Australian player, he’s playing well and he brings the ball back hard,” Gallen said.

Fifita inspired a Sharks comeback as they came from 14 points down at half-time to chalk up just their second win at home this season – the other was a one-point cliffhanger against the cellar-dwelling Knights – as Maloney’s boot proved the difference in the 18-14 win.

Gallen described Fifita as “the best forward in the competition” with increased consistency after he set up Chad Townsend’s try.

“That’s what Andrew can do,” Flanagan said. “He showed some really sharp feet in the first half and his second stint was probably his best stint. Overall he changed the game for us and it was a fantastic effort.

“The frustrating thing for me is to start better and not have to go into those slogs. They were awful in the second half then we were awful in the first half.”

North Queensland coach Paul Green lamented his side’s last-tackle options in the second half after Michael Morgan – who could fill Thurston’s No.6 Maroons jumper for should his teammate fail to recover from a shoulder injury – sparked the first-half lead.

“It’s one of your fundamentals of footy,” Green said. “We were in a position to win that game, but we put ourselves under too much pressure. You really need to make sure you get out of your end and they were coming to get us. All in all I was really proud of the effort we showed … but we still put ourselves under too much pressure.”

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How an alleged $165m tax fraud syndicate unravelled

Raid on the offices of Rommark in Double Bay.Property developer Michael Teplitsky is arrested by Federal Police Photo: Fairfax MediaOne of the largest tax fraud syndicates in the country’s history unravelled in spectacular fashion above the clothing boutiques and trendy cafes of Double Bay on Wednesday.

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With his morning coffee in hand, property developer Boris Markovsky opened the door to his eastern suburbs office to more than a dozen Australian Federal Police wearing plain clothes and leather gloves.

Fairfax Media watched on as Rommark Corporation, run by Ukrainian-born developers Michael Teplitsky and Mr Markovsky, was turned upside down by officers who combed through piles of documents.

It was one of 28 properties across Sydney raided by 300 police as an extraordinary investigation into a $165 million tax fraud came to a head.

Mr Teplitsky and Mr Markovsky are not believed to be involved in the fraud syndicate but police allege some of the $165 million was laundered through Rommark through investments in property developments.

After initially inviting Fairfax Media in to talk about the raid, Mr Teplitsky exploded at a photographer who was documenting the raid, crash tackling him to the ground and ripping his shirt.

Mr Teplitsky’s new girlfriend, socialite Olivia Korner, pulled the hair of Fairfax’s reporter and screamed at officers to get off her boyfriend.

Six police officers tried to arrest Mr Teplitsky, struggling with him on the ground in front of horrified shoppers and workers in the quiet complex next door to the Intercontinental Hotel.

Another man threatened Fairfax Media outside the building, grabbing a mobile phone and saying, “You don’t want to mess with us”.

It’s understood police were also searching Rommark’s offices for information relating to Daniel Hausman, an associate of Mr Teplitsky’s who allegedly turned on the syndicate and tried to extort them for $5 million.

Elsewhere across Sydney, police raided several homes and businesses including the Bondi Beach unit of Adam Cranston, 30, son of Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston.

Adam was hauled out just after dawn, shirtless and in tracksuit pants. Properties in Vaucluse, Waterloo, Woollahra and Wahroonga were also raided.

Officers also paid a visit to Michael Cranston at his Menai home to advise him of his son’s arrest and serve him with a future court attendance notice for allegedly abusing his position in public office.

“Michael was in shock when we spoke to him,” AFP detective superintendent Kirsty Schofield said on Thursday.

Rommark advertises itself as Sydney’s “prestigious boutique developers” behind projects including The Gallery at Double Bay and Genoa of Bondi Junction.

Mr Teplitsky’s vast portfolio of developments includes the forthcoming 19-storey luxury 8Hotel on Wentworth Avenue in Surry Hills, and the century-old 100 Harris Street building in Pyrmont, occupied by Fairfax Media’s real estate site Domain.

The 48-year-old split from his wife earlier this year, not long after they bought “Aussie” John Symond’s Point Piper penthouse for $13.3 million.

On Wednesday, he was taken away in handcuffs to calm down and was later released without charge.

Nine people were charged with offences relating to the fraud syndicate. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeATO’);

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