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Calls grow for Logan mayor to resign

Logan mayor Luke Smith has refused to say whether he received a speedboat from a campaign donor.Calls are growing for embattled Logan Mayor Luke Smith to resign after being hit with corruption allegations.
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Smith is due to face court next month, but on Wednesday refused to answer questions about whether he received a luxury boat from a developer who contributed to his campaign.

Asked repeatedly to give a yes and no answer during an ABC Radio interview, Smith declined, saying only that media reports about the allegations were not accurate.

“What the media is reporting is incorrect…I’m waiting to see what the allegations are,” Smith told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he doesn’t have the power to stand aside the mayor and left the ball in Smith’s court.

State government minister and MP for the Logan-based seat of Waterford Shannon Fentiman on Wednesday joined calls from the local business community for Smith to stand down.

“I absolutely believe people are innocent until proven guilty and the Mayor has every right to defend these allegations,” Ms Fentiman wrote on her official Facebook page.

“However, for the good of our local community, I think Luke Smith must now stand aside while this matter is before the court.”

Despite the calls, Smith is refusing to stand aside, claiming his innocence in any corruption allegations.

Crime and Corruption Commission boss Alan MacSporran addressed a state government committee hearing into laws banning developer donations, sparked by the 2016 local government election.

While specifically avoiding commenting on the Logan mayor’s case, Mr MacSporran said Mr Hinchliffe should have the power to remove councillors under a corruption cloud.

“If for instance you have a serving councillor who is charged with a criminal offence, there should be measures in place to allow the minister to make a determination that that person should be stood down,” Mr MacSporran told the hearing at state parliament on Wednesday.

“You can’t possibly hope to be a sitting councillor charged with a criminal offence and hope to be able to perform your role as a councillor.”

Media have reported the charges relate to a speedboat given to Smith by a Chinese developer, which he later sold.

The 48-year-old has been charged with official corruption, failing to correct his council register of interests and two counts of perjury.

Smith is the third southeast Queensland mayor to be charged by the CCC after former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and sacked Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor Chris Loft were also slapped with various offences.

Australian Associated Press

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Crows captain Walker to make AFL return

Adelaide’s Taylor Walker has been tipped to return for Thursday night’s AFL match against Richmond.Adelaide captain Taylor Walker returns from injury as his AFL club face their demons against Richmond.
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Walker has overcome a foot injury but Tom Lynch has been ruled out for another match.

The Tigers, seeking some icing on an already sweet cake with another win against the Crows, lost Nick Vlastuin to injury and dropped Callum Moore, summoning premiership hero Bachar Houli and Jack Higgins for the Thursday night clash.

Adelaide’s Walker is one of four changes for the Crows, returning alongside Wayne Milera, Jordan Gallucci and Matthew Signorello.

Suspended Richard Douglas, recruit Sam Gibson (hamstring) and midfielder Curtly Hampton (groin) were unavailable for the Crows, who also dropped utility Andy Otten.

Link-man Lynch has a virus and will miss the Adelaide Oval fixture after being sidelined by a side strain in round one.

“The side strain has settled down now but from a viral viewpoint he’s not quite right,” Crows coach Don Pyke told reporters on Wednesday.

Walker will make his first competitive outing this season after missing the two pre-season games because of a foot injury.

The Crows mentor wasn’t buying into being motivated by any semblance of revenge on the Tigers, who thrashed Pyke’s side by eight goals in last year’s grand final.

“That is part of the learnings from last year,” Pyke said of Adelaide’s grand final flop.

“We have been through (that) and we don’t specifically reference that for tomorrow night’s game.”

Adelaide’s suspended stalwart Douglas was banned for his head-high bump on Essendon’s Zach Merrett last Friday night.

Adelaide challenged the one-match ban but lost at the tribunal.

“We really felt that the evidence we were able to put forward showed in some way that there was doubt whether the contact was to the head versus the body,” Pyke said.

“It was disappointing for Dougy … that was just the way it went.

“The bump is part of the game but they already understand that if you bump and there’s any head contact, you’re in trouble.”

Adelaide’s All Australian half-back Rory Laird has inked a three-year contract extension, though there’s still no word on vice-captain Rory Sloane.

“That is ongoing. I’m not really in a spot to comment,” Pyke said of Sloane, a free-agency target of clubs in his native Victoria.

Australian Associated Press

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Demons’ Hogan cleared for AFL round two

Jesse Hogan was one of Melbourne’s best performers in the AFL round one loss to Geelong.Melbourne spearhead Jesse Hogan is a certain starter for Saturday’s AFL clash with Brisbane despite having a scan on a swollen elbow.
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Hogan underwent the precautionary examination on Tuesday after copping a knock during Melbourne’s agonising three-point loss to Geelong over the weekend.

The 23-year-old had his left elbow heavily bandaged during a light training run earlier on Tuesday.

But coach Simon Goodwin says Hogan is in no doubt to face the Lions at the Gabba, in welcome news for a team already missing injured duo Jack Viney and Tom McDonald.

“He’ll definitely play,” Goodwin told reporters on Wednesday.

“He was just a little bit swollen in his elbow. Really precautionary scan, went off and he’s 100 per cent, he’s fine, he’ll be ready to play.

“I thought his game (against Geelong) was pretty strong. He kicked three (goals), he competed strongly and he went into the midfield as well so I thought his game was pretty solid.”

Goodwin said tough midfielders Dom Tyson and Angus Brayshaw were in the mix to return against the Lions.

The pair were surprisingly overlooked for the season-opener with Goodwin noting that a recent calf injury hadn’t helped Tyson’s cause.

“They were really unlucky to miss out last week. It was really tight for selection,” he said.

“No doubt their names will be prominent again in match committee.”

The new-look Lions already look to be a much-improved side after last year’s wooden-spoon finish.

Star recruits Luke Hodge and Charlie Cameron and No.1 draft pick Cameron Rayner all impressed during their 25-point opening-round loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

Saturday’s clash looms as a mouth-watering meeting between star ruckmen Max Gawn and Stefan Martin, who had 42 hitouts and 19 disposals against the Saints.

“I think they’re pretty close mates and they’ve played on each other a few times,” Goodwin said.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic duel. They’re both really quality ruckmen that have big influences for their team. It’ll go a long way towards deciding the game.

“I thought (Brisbane) were outstanding around the ball last week. They dominated the clearances, they were good in contested ball. They’re a side that certainly are on the improve.”

Australian Associated Press

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Kirby slams Dutton’s white refugee focus

A former high court judge slammed Peter Dutton’s call to grant special refugee status based on race.A former high court justice has hit out at Peter Dutton’s decision to grant special refugee status to persecuted white farmers in South Africa.
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Justice Michael Kirby, speaking at a book launch critiquing Australia’s refugee policy, said “we should reach out” to farmers being displaced and attacked in South Africa.

“If they have claims for refugee status they should be granted refugee assistance,” he said in Sydney on Wednesday.

“I’m sure some of them are being dealt with very cruelly and very unfairly in South Africa.”

Justice Kirby said whether the farmers’ claims amounted to a well-founded fear of persecution – a central aspect of the refugee definition – were another question.

Mr Dutton caused widespread controversy and diplomatic tensions after arguing last week the farmers needed help from a “civilised country” like Australia.

He wants the farmers fast-tracked through Australia’s refugee program.

“Giving them special status because they have white skin is something too deeply embedded in Australian history and it’s time we got over it,” Justice Kirby said.

Mr Dutton said he would stare down the growing criticism from “crazy lefties”, arguing his detractors in the media are “completely dead” to him.

Australian Associated Press

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Aus is now a model for ‘cruel law’: Kirby

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby says Australia has become a model for a “cruel and harsh law”.Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is dismantling global humanitarian commitments which grew from the darkness of the holocaust, former high court judge Michael Kirby has warned.
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Australians must remember the charters and laws, which push nations to accept refugees, were established because European states did not take in those fleeing Nazi Germany, Justice Kirby says.

Their actions condemned countless lives to the concentration camps in the months and years that followed.

“These stories teach us the obligations of ordinary humanity to people who are in peril,” he told the crowd at a book launch for human rights law lecturer Daniel Ghezelbash.

Dr Ghezelbash’s book says Australia modelled many asylum policies on the United States – particularly off-shore processing, push-back operations and mandatory detention.

But Justice Kirby said the Australian constitution, unlike that of the United States, does not enshrine human rights.

The result is that lawyers who seek to help asylum seekers have few “quivers for their bow”,” Justice Kirby said.

Now the rest of the world, particularly Europe, is looking to emulate Australia’s uncompromising policies to cope with their waves of undocumented migration, the book argues.

“We have become a model not for a good law but for a cruel and harsh law,” Justice Kirby said.

“(Other countries) think we have got something to tell them on how to turn back the boats or to turn back the trucks.”

“And this is going to lead to a falling away of the key elements of the asylum principals.”

Dr Ghezelbash’s book warns Europe is one of the final bastions of asylum but the global consensus to help the helpless could be lost, in part because of Australia.

Justice Kirby said he hopes the book serves as a “reminder of where we have come from, where we were, and where we seem to be going”.

Australian Associated Press

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Catalan separatist turns herself in in UK

Catalan separatist Clara Ponsati, wanted in Spain for rebellion, has handed herself in to UK police.Former Catalan education minister Clara Ponsati, a separatist and academic wanted in Spain on charges of rebellion against the state, has handed herself in at a Scottish police station, a Reuters witness says.
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Ponsati, a professor at the University of St Andrews, is fighting extradition and will seek bail and a full hearing, her lawyer has said.

She is one of several former Catalan senior officials being sought by the Spanish judiciary for their part in an independence referendum deemed illegal under Spanish law.

Ponsati arrived at a central Edinburgh police station accompanied by her lawyer. A Scottish court will decide later on Wednesday whether to grant her bail pending a full hearing.

The lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “Clara remains defiant, resolute and is determined to fight back.”

Ponsati believes she will not get a fair trial in Spain, where the secessionists are locked in a battle with the state and most of them are either behind bars ahead of trial or in exile.

“Like other Catalan politicians, I promoted the peaceful democratic referendum in October 2017, yet now face charges including rebellion with violence against the unity of the Spanish nation,” Ponsati said in statement, part of a crowdfunding effort to support her.

Australian Associated Press

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Teen flown to hospital after Tanilba Bay crash

Teen flown to hospital after Tanilba Bay crash TweetFacebook Crash at Tanilba BayPictures: Port Stephens SESPOLICE are investigating after a head-on crash in Tanilba Bay on Wednesday afternoon left a woman seriously injured.
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The Westpac rescue helicopter was called to the scene on Lemon Tree Passage shortly after 4pm after two sedans collided.

A 19-year-old woman was trapped in her Mitsubishi Lancer before she was freed by Port Stephens SES.

She was flown to John Hunter Hospital suffering multiple injuries, includingfractures to her leg, arm and suspected pelvis.

The patient was in a serious but stable condition.

A 46-year-old man driving a Holden Commodore was also taken to John Hunter Hospital for medical checks.

The Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit attended the scene and are continuing investigations.

Investigatorsurged witnesses to come forward, contact your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Rebels make three changes for Hurricanes

Tom English is one of three back in the Melbourne Rebels starting line-up against the Hurricanes.The Melbourne Rebels have made three changes to the team’s starting line-up to take on the Hurricanes in their Good Friday clash at AAMI Park.
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Flanker Lopeti Timani, lock Matt Phillip and utility back Tom English return to the starting line-up, replacing Colby Fainga’a, Geoff Parling and winger Sefa Naivalu from the team that trounced the Sharks last round.

Wallaby prop Ben Daley has returned to the Rebels’ bench after overcoming a concussion injury suffered against the Waratahs, while Wallaby hooker Jordan Uelese is also included on the bench in place of Mahe Vailanu.

Back-rower Ross Haylett-Petty also returns to the bench but his Wallabies fullback brother, Dane, was again left out with lingering symptoms from his head knock against NSW.

REBELS: Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Will Genia, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Adam Coleman (capt), Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner. Res: Jordan Uelese, Ben Daley, Sam Talakai, Ross Haylett-Petty, Colby Fainga’a, Richard Hardwick, Michael Ruru, Sefa Naivalu.

Australian Associated Press

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Vaginal mesh only as last resort: report

Greens’ Rachel Siewert chaired a committee investigating risks associated with transvaginal mesh.A Senate committee has recommended transvaginal mesh only be used as a last resort after victims told an inquiry harrowing stories of devastating physical and mental scars.
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The mesh has been used since the 1990s to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women, with many experiencing severe impacts.

A report tabled in parliament on Wednesday made 13 recommendations including mandatory reporting of adverse effects on women, more information about the risks of implants and better training for doctors and surgeons.

“Many women who have had transvaginal mesh implants have had devastating complications resulting in ongoing emotional trauma, embarrassment, shame, depression, debilitating pain, recurring infection and a poor quality of life,” committee chair, Greens senator Rachel Siewert said.

Independent senator Derryn Hinch said the committee had heard frightening stories of complications for women who had been let down by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“Having first been told there’s only a one per cent chance of an adverse reaction, they have since been treated like mushrooms,” Senator Hinch said.

“Kept in the dark and fed bulls*** by doctors, hospital administrators, the drug companies and sadly even the TGA.”

The committee recommended the mesh be used only with fully informed consent and as a last resort when other treatment options have been properly considered and determined unsuitable.

Establishing a register of all high-risk devices and providing information of how to seek treatment in the event of complications were among the report’s other recommendations

“This should never have happened. We need to fix it. We need to be providing support for these women,” Senator Siewert said.

Senator Hinch said the netting, which had led to relationship breakdowns, could become brittle, break away in shards and splinters to float around the body.

“No wonder these slings have been called a torture device.”

Australian Associated Press

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Nelmes in message to Premier: call us metro

WHAT’S IN A NAME: Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes has taken aim at the state government over what’s regional and what’s not.LORD mayor Nuatali Nelmes has doubled down on her desire for Newcastle to be considered a “metropolitan” area in the same vein as Sydney despite acknowledging the two cities are “very different”.
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Cr Nelmes is seeking clarity from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian after the state government earlier this month drew a line under Newcastle, meaning the city would miss out on receiving a slice of the $4 billion earmarked for regional areas from the sale of the state’s share of the Snowy Hydro Scheme.

It followed a similar rejection last year after the state said it would not use a regional cultural fund to help fund the expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery.

On Tuesday night, councillors unanimously supported a lord mayoral minute that called on the Premier to provide “clarification about regional and metropolitan boundaries” and noted the “continued uncertainty” the classifications were having.

Cr Nelmes said Newcastle was “very different” to Sydney but should be classified as a metropolitan area because “big infrastructure projects” were being held back without “metropolitan funding”, citing the development of the Port of Newcastle as a container terminal and the international expansion of Newcastle Airport.​

“Without metropolitan funding, these big infrastructure projects remain largely unfunded, stifling economic growth for Newcastle and the broader region,” she said.

Despite his desire for Newcastle to “one day” be regarded as a metropolitan area, Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes believed the city was “not quite there yet”.

The chamber recently wrote to the state government requesting the city be viewed as regional after becoming frustrated some big projects were going unfunded.

Mr Hawes saw “advantages and disadvantages” in being classified as metropolitan but wanted certainty so Newcastle “knows where it stands”. “Right now there is inconsistency across all levels of government,” he said.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald dismissed suggestions Newcastle was missing out on funding.

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Knights wingers in Dragons’ shootout

Knights wingers in Dragons’ shootout Nathan Ross
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Ken Sio

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald understands Nathan Ross and Ken Sio are involved in a personal duel to see who will partner centre Tautau Moga on the left edge against the Dragons at WIN Stadium .

Knights coach Nathan Brown is understood to have been disappointed with Ross’ contribution in the 38-8 loss to the Sydney Roosters and is toying with the idea of promoting Sio at his expense.

Read more:Knights on the verge of re-signing King

Tellingly, the two wingers alternated in the top squad during an opposed session at training on Wednesday with Ross slotting in at fullback in NSW Cup coach Simon Woolford’s side when Sio reverted to the wing outsideMoga.

Brown gave little away after the session but is expected to make a final decision between the two after Thursday’s training session.

Ross ran 12 times for 100 metres against the Roosters which is down on his usual input and copped criticism, some of it unfounded, for being out of position when Moga threw two no-look passes out over the sideline.

Complicating the issue for Brown is Sio has not been setting the world on fire on NSW Cup.

Brown did confirm he will go with four forwards on the bench against the Dragons and use co-captain Jamie Buhrer as a utility option if needed.

That rules out hooker Danny Leviand Jack Cogger’s chances of a call-up.

Backrower Aidan Guerra is carrying a leg cork from the loss to the Roosters but is not considered in any real doubt according to the coach.

“We are expecting him to be fine but we’ll see how it goes,”Brown said.

Meanwhile, Connor Watson is expected to be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks but won’t be having surgery on his injured shoulder, which popped out twicein the first half against the Roosters.

“These types of injuries, most clubs if they can go down the rehab path at this stage of the year they do that,”Brown said.

“Hopefully it rehabilitates well and he can come back in five or six weeks and it holds up for the rest of the season but only time will tell.

“It’s obviously disappointing for Connor but it gives Brock [Lamb] his chance.”

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Win Myint new Myanmar president

Myanmar has elected Win Myint, a loyalist of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as its new president.Myanmar’s parliament has elected Win Myint, a loyalist of Aung San Suu Kyi, as new president, while she retained her executive authority over the government.
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The vote comes as Suu Kyi’s civilian government has struggled to implement peace and national reconciliation, with the powerful military still embroiled in combat with ethnic rebels and under heavy international criticism for its brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Myanmar’s military ruled the country for a half-century during which it was accused of widespread abuses before partially handing power to a civilian government in 2016. It is still in charge of security matters and still faces accusations of rights abuses.

Like his predecessor Htin Kyaw, who retired last week for reasons of ill health, Win Myint, 66, is a Suu Kyi loyalist of many years and a stalwart member of her National League for Democracy, an affiliation which earned him a brief spell as a political prisoner more than two decades ago under the previous military government.

When Suu Kyi’s government was installed in 2016, she explained that she would be “above the president,” a situation amenable to both the president and the public.

The job of state counsellor was created especially for Suu Kyi because she is constitutionally banned from the presidency. A clause in the 2008 military-drafted constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or child from holding the job. It clearly targeted Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British, as was her late husband.

Win Myint received 403 votes of the combined houses against 211 for Myint Swe, the military’s nominee, and 18 for Vice President Henry Van Tio.

Win Myint resigned as speaker of the lower house last week.

Australian Associated Press

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OPINION: Another setback for the Empire Hotel site

TWO years after it bought the Empire Hotel site in Hunter Street for $2.8 million to build a high-rise tower with a component of “affordable housing”,the Maitland-Newcastle diocese of the Catholic Church has thrown in the towel, selling the site for a hefty $8.3 million, pocketing, on paper, a handy profit of $5.5 million in the process.
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The sale has not endeared the church to the Hunter Development Corporation –which sold it the land –or to some on Newcastle City Council, with Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen attacking the diocese for taking an “outrageous” profit and leaving the site “empty and boarded”.

For its part, the church has pointed to a combination of difficulties that it says combined to kill the project, some of which are directly related to the promised“affordable housing”.

This is important because governments, fearing that everyday workers are being priced out of city centres, have offered variousincentives to organisations providing officially defined “affordable housing”.

The church says that in the past few years it has successfully provided 74 affordable housing dwellings in suburban Hunter region surroundings, but that the state of the Newcastle CBD property market is such that the high-rise tower it was planning for the Empire site could not be built as a feasible economic proposition.

Having struggled to attract builder interest to the site, the church says it wasrushed with offers as soon as developers learned the land was for sale.

A few things are at play here. To start with, the Newcastle CBD property market has risendramatically in the past few years.

But more importantly, there is nothing obliging the new owner to buildaffordable housing. Yes, the approved tower has been granted some concessions on the basis of anaffordable housing component, but Bloc will likely negotiate a slightly altered DA, and finance the project based on higher sales prices than would have beenthe case with more thanhalf the building dedicated to affordable housing.

Hopefully, this will mean a building on this long-troubled site, sooner rather than later. As far as the finger pointing between the church, the council and HDC are concerned, only those involved will know the true state of those negotiations.

Either way, the church’s failure must inevitably put more pressure on HDC to succeed with its own affordable housing proposal on the rail corridor at Merewether Street.

ISSUE: 38,760.

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