September, 2019

Slain hero of French attack honoured

Slain hero Colonel Arnaud Beltrame is being posthumously awarded the Legion of Honour.The slain hero of last week’s extremist attack in southern France is to be posthumously awarded the Legion of Honour by French President Emmanuel Macron.
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France’s highest award will be bestowed on Colonel Arnaud Beltrame on Wednesday, a day of national homage to him comprising a procession from Paris’ Pantheon and a ceremony at Hotel des Invalides.

Speaking on France Inter on Wednesday, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed the security services were about to reduce the surveillance on the attacker, Redouane Lakdim, who was on a radicalisation watch list.

“Ultimately no one thought that there would be a hasty attack,” he said.

Lakdim went on a rampage, killing four in a quiet corner of southern France on Friday. Beltrame died after swapping himself for a hostage during a siege in a supermarket.

Australian Associated Press


Cowboys coach demands ‘reaction’ to loss

North Queensland coach Paul Green wants a ‘reaction’ from his squad in their NRL clash with Penrith.After delivering a memorable post-match spray, North Queensland coach Paul Green has demanded a “reaction” from the Cowboys in their NRL clash with Penrith in Townsville.
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Green let rip following last round’s 30-14 loss to Melbourne, accusing his players of believing their own press and that premiership hype had gone to their heads.

It was scathing stuff but Green said his players were quick to put their hand up and be accountable at training this week.

He said the signs were good for Penrith to cop the backlash on Thursday night.

“I’d like to think I get a reaction after last week,” Green said.

“Because there were a few disappointed heads after the game.

“But we have trained well since and they have been pretty honest.”

Green said he didn’t have to deliver another classic bake to get a reaction from his troops at training as they looked to snap their two game losing run.

Green confirmed fullback Lachlan Coote would return from a hamstring injury via their Queensland Cup feeder club Mackay this weekend.

Ben Hampton retains the No.1 jersey in an unchanged line-up against the Panthers.

But asked if he would be surprised if Coote ran out for North Queensland, Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said: “No, I wouldn’t be.”

Griffin insisted he wasn’t doing any foxing of his own by confirming Tyrone Peachey would start in the halves with James Maloney with exciting youngster Jarome Luai coming off the bench.

Peachey slots into five-eighth and Maloney at halfback after the Panthers’ luck ran out last round when prized playmaker Nathan Cleary (knee) went down in their 20-18 loss to the Bulldogs.

It will mark the first game Cleary has missed for Penrith since his debut in round 13, 2016.

“His strength is his running game. I think that will continue no matter where he plays,” Green said of Peachey who last played pivot in Round 2, 2016.

Griffin said rookie Luai could feature in the halves at some stage on Thursday night.


* The Cowboys have won seven of the past nine games against the Panthers.

* The Cowboys are on a five match winning streak against the Panthers, dating to 2009.

* Penrith have just five wins from their past 19 games in Queensland, registering their last win on Gold Coast in round 25, 2016.

Australian Associated Press


Glory out to delay Sydney’s celebrations

Sydney FC go to Perth for their A-League clash and have their sights on the Premiers’ Plate.Sydney FC can secure the A-League premiership on Thursday night while Perth Glory need to win to stay in the finals hunt, setting up a clash with plenty at stake.
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The Sky Blues arrive in Perth with the chance to secure a second straight Premiers’ Plate with a victory over a Glory team needing to win or see their finals chances almost buried.

That sets the stage for a terrific encounter at nib Stadium and Graham Arnold is by no means going to take his foot off the pedal even if they secure their second straight premiership.

“We’re not done yet and we don’t want to see the Premiers’ Plate until the last game of the season,” the Sydney FC coach said.

“We’ve still got some targets to hit and we’ve set some new goals over the past week to raise our performance.

“No team has ever amassed 60 points two years in a row and Melbourne City hold the record with 63 goals. We are on 57 so we are chasing that too.”

The task is certainly ahead of Glory but they go into the clash having won their past four matches at home, including a 1-0 win on Sunday over Melbourne Victory.

They remain unlikely finalists, though, sitting in eighth spot behind Western Sydney Wanderers and seventh-placed Brisbane Roar.

It’s a tough run home too, starting Thursday against Sydney FC before a road clash with second-placed Newcastle Jets and then at home to Brisbane.

Coach Kenny Lowe is understandably happy with how his team is now playing and with a clear bill of health on the injury front.

But he’s under no illusion about the challenge from Sydney.

“Sydney are a fantastic team. They are a benchmark for everybody,” Lowe said.

“They’ve got super players and I think sometimes tall poppy syndrome exists. I don’t know how you can criticise Sydney, they are a top team and they’ve done ever so well.

“I’m not sure I agree with Arnie about them being underdogs. I think he’s chucking some hand grenades out there. They’re a super team and they’ll come here wanting to win the premiership. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”

Australian Associated Press


Pathways program boost

Premiership-winning top grade coach Adam Bettridge says the Newcastle RL’s new Under 19’s program is the perfect pathway for young players to transition into senior footy.
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Newcastle officials Matt Harris and Adam Devcich along with Bettridge launched a new competition and representative program at McDonald Jones Stadium on Wednesday.

The competition, to be played between May and August, will feature the eight district clubs in stand-alone Friday night double-header matches under lights.

The teams will also play in Futures matches before or after first grade during the season with a player from each club eventually invited to trial with the Knights at the end of the year.

The Emerging Rebels representative squad, which Macquarie top grade coach Bettridge will be in charge of, will be selected for a mid-season clash againsta Penrith representative youth squad and an end-of-season trip to Melbourne to play a Victorian side.

Bettridge, who is chasing back-to-back first grade premierships with the Scorpions in 2018, is excited to be involved with the new Under 19’s initiative.

“I think it’s a great program and hopefully, it will encourage young guys to stick around in rugby league,”he said.

“It’s probably not so much a pathway to the NRL but more a pathway to playing first grade at local level.

“I don’t think there is too much wrong with young blokes striving to play 100 first grade games in Newcastle andtrying to play representative footy for Newcastle.

“I’d like to bring the history of the game here back into it and show these kids exactly what they can strive for.

“We’ll bring a squad together and we will pick kids from every club to give them an opportunity.”

Bettridge said it’s important young players are given an incentive to keep playing the game.

“Boys at this age turn into men obviously and they get jobs and girlfriends and responsibilities and probably life career paths change so it is a hard age group to keep boys playing,”he said.

“We see it being a very strong competition this year and by encouraging these 19-year-olds to stick around, and this is something we hope will do that, we are hoping to see the format grow.

“They are the future of the game. We can talk about first grade all we want but in five years time, these are the kids we are going to be talking about.

“Hopefully, with myself coaching and some other experienced staff around us, these kids will get a better idea of what’s required to play first grade around here and hopefully, we can give them a good program that they will get plenty out of.”

New initiative: Some of Newcastle RL’s best young under 19’s stars at McDonald Jones Stadium for the launch of the new competition and representative program. Picture: Marina Neil


Mysteries in the minutes as ICAC inquiry heats up

MYSTERY: Former CEO Steven Slee told the ICAC he was not aware of a deal involving the sale of Awabakal land to Gows Heat until last year. Picture: Janie Barrett
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A corruption inquiry has been told board minutes of the Awabakal land council appear to have been falsified to show it voted in favour of selling land to a company tied to disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias.

It came as a Sydney developer told the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) he did not understand how a reference to the same company – Gows Heat Pty Ltd – ended up in documentation he prepared on the development of the land.

The watchdog’s Operation Skyline is investigating four deals to sell off Awabakal land between 2014 and 2016.

Read more:

Cash, intrigue and a dead company director on ICAC’s skylineICAC inquiry launched into Awabakal land dealingsOur original investigationMr Petroulias was a “common feature” in all of the deals and Gows Heat a shelf company he controlled, it has been alleged.

In the witness box on Wednesday was Omar Abdullah, a building designer and new home specialist based in Sydney.

He made an overture to the land council in late 2014, after he was informed by a business contact it had property ripe for development.

Mr Abdullah told the inquiry he was given an opportunity to meet with Awabakal’s board and present it with discussion material on potential developments.

He felt the presentation was met with a “positive reaction”, but Mr Abdullahdid not pursue adeal when he got “nothing formal back” from the board.

The inquiry previously heard a “critical matter” will be an allegation from Mr Petroulias that the presentation was made jointly with Gows Heat.

When asked if he had ever heard of Gows, Mr Abdullah replied “absolutely not”.

Mr Abdullah was then shown a document that appeared to be identical to the one he circulated during the presentation, but included a reference to Gows Heat.

“I’ve never seen this document,” he said.

The land council’s chief executive at the time, Steven Slee, was questioned over his recollection events.

Mr Slee told the inquiry the board resolved to contact Mr Abdullah to pursue the land proposal, a resolution reflected in typed and signed minutes and a “running list” of resolutions kept at the land council’s offices.

Council assisting Nicholas Chen SC tendered those documents as evidence, before presenting Mr Slee with an additional book containing handwritten minutes.

Mr Slee agreed it appeared someone had written extra words around the resolution.

He was unable to decipher what they said, but observed they startedwith the letters “Go”.

Mr Slee was then shown a different resolution that appeared to have been stapled into the minute book, recording a decision to push ahead with the sale of the land to Gows Heat.

“Mr Slee, whilst you were CEO was it the practice of the board to staple resolutions into minute books?” Mr Chen asked.

“No,” Mr Slee responded, agreeing it appeared someone had tampered with the minutes. He was unable to pinpoint who it might be.

“[There was] full open access to all staff and the board, it could have been any of those,” Mr Slee said.

He testified that he was never aware of any deal to sell Awabakal property to Gows Heat until investigations commenced last year.