Monthly Archives: May 2019

Chris Hartcher sought illegal donations from Nathan Tinkler: ICAC

Liberal party fundraiser Aaron Henry leaving the ICAC hearing. Photo: Rob Homer Sydney accountant Timothy Trumbull (left) leaves the ICAC hearing. Photo: Rob Homer
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ICAC appearance: former resources minister Chris Hartcher. Photo: Phil Hearne

Former Liberal state energy minister Chris Hartcher was personally involved in seeking illegal donations from embattled coal mogul Nathan Tinkler, text messages tendered at a corruption inquiry reveal.

A former staff member to Mr Hartcher, Aaron Henry, texted the controller of an alleged Liberal Party slush fund on June 8, 2010: “CPH [Christopher Peter Hartcher] wants confirmation the invoice has been sent to Patinack Farm.”

“Confirmed,” a long-time adviser to Mr Hartcher, Tim Koelma, replied at 9.52am.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating allegations that Mr Koelma set up a “sham business” called Eightbyfive to receive donations from illegal sources, including $66,000 from Mr Tinkler’s property development group Buildev via his horse racing business Patinack Farm.

Property developers have been banned from donating to political parties in NSW since December 2009.

Mr Hartcher and fellow central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber, along with staff members Mr Koelma and Ray Carter, allegedly solicited secret donations in return for political favours.

Mr Henry told the commission on Wednesday he did not know why Mr Hartcher would be “distracting himself” from the March 2011 state election campaign by asking about a horse racing operation.

“This is a pretty important inquiry, I think,” counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said. “Most people in NSW are watching it. It’s pretty important for us to find out why.”

Mr Henry said he was a “junior staffer” and was “at the direction” of his boss.

Later on Wednesday, Sydney accountant Timothy Trumbull was accused of knowingly breaching political donations laws by using Irish backpackers on his payroll as “fronts” to donate $4000 to the NSW Liberal Party.

The inquiry has heard the money eventually made its way into another alleged slush fund, Micky Tech, after Mr Hartcher laundered the money through his old law firm, Hartcher Reid. The firm is not accused of wrongdoing.

Described as ”avidly anti-socialist”, Mr Trumbull, his wife Lynn and his company had all reached their cap on allowable donations, the hearing was told.

Mr Trumbull insisted he was not breaking the law as the backpackers were ”very interested in politics” and were happy to spend their bonuses on donations.

”They were not even entitled to vote, they were backpackers from England and Ireland,” Commissioner Megan Latham said.

”I don’t even have an interest in my own country’s politics,” one of the backpackers said in a statement tendered to the commission.

But Mr Trumbull insisted: ”It was organised so that no laws were broken.”

”I am putting to you that you are lying,” Mr Watson said.

The inquiry was told that Mr Trumbull dropped the three cheques to Dee Why real estate agent John Caputo before the 2011 state election.

Mr Caputo, who is a former mayor of Warringah and a major fund-raiser for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Mike Baird, later gave the cheques to Mr Hartcher. He is expected to give evidence on Thursday.

The inquiry also heard that Mr Hartcher used Liberal MLC Charlie Lynn to do a favour for Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, which donated more than $180,000 to Eightbyfive.

Mr Lynn, who is not accused of wrongdoing, said he was not a friend of Mr Hartcher although they were “supposedly” from the same conservative right faction of the Liberal Party.

“I think they call it the IKEA faction now,” Mr Lynn said. “You join it together when you want something done.”

Ms Latham quipped: “Does it come with its own Allen key?”

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Netball powers should consider a two-point scoring zone

Tall order: Romelda Aiken of the Firebirds. Photo: Quinn RooneyThe emergence of the towering goal shooter in the ANZ Championship has seen a marked shift in the way the game is played by some teams and should have netball powers considering the introduction of a two-point scoring zone.
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This would not only have the obvious effect of encouraging teams to take a risk with a long-bomb shot for the reward of double points but it would also bring the goal attack back into play as a shooting option in those teams which  rely on a tall goal shooter to do the bulk of their scoring.

Watching the NSW Swifts defeat New Zealand side Southern Steel in their historic ANZAC Day clash proved an interesting contrast in attacking styles, and showed up the limitations of the lofty, holding goal shooter. The Southern Steel – featuring the ANZ Championship’s tallest player, 198 centimetre Jhaniele Fowler-Reid – played an incredibly one-dimensional game and were held to account by a Swifts defensive unit that played a tight marking style, and never allowed Steel to find their rhythm and their gigantic target.

At the other end the Swifts more mobile duo of Susan Pratley and Caitlin Thwaites used ball speed and clever moves to pile on the goals to set up their team’s win. Interestingly the Swifts goal circle of Pratley and Thwaites have the most even returns of any partnership in the league, with just 13 goals separating their respective hauls of 210 and 197 goals for the season.

The most successful teams are those that can score through both their goal shooter and their goal attack. This is because a goal attack who is in the circle putting up goals splits the defensive unit, and in doing so creates more space to play with. To do this she needs a goal shooter who can get out of the circle to make space when necessary, and who can also set up play for her attacking partner.

When a team boasts a towering goal shooter whose game plan is to plant herself in the middle of the circle plucking in skyscraper passes there is little doubt that she will dominate the scoreboard, but the team  also runs a huge risk that it will be shut down by a well-prepared defence. This is the case for the Steel, and, to a lesser extent the Queensland Firebirds with Romelda Aiken and West Coast Fever with Caitlin Bassett. Between them these three teams boast the tallest shooters in the competition, who regularly deliver 40 goal-plus games for them, yet only one of them, the Firebirds, sit in the top four of the ladder.

Added to the risk is the downside for the fans in that it really does make the goal attack the third feeder. This takes away the opportunity to see just how good goal attacks are at creating play, using space and, most importantly, sinking shots. Generally goal attacks are among the best athletes in the team, so the challenge is to find a way to encourage them to use that athleticism and skill when they are paired with a tall shooter who dominates the attacking space.

Coaches can do this in the game plan they devise, but administrators also have a role to play. Any change to the rules of netball as fundamental as altering the scoring system would have to be carefully considered. It would be a worthwhile exercise if it ensured that some of our sport’s best athletes don’t become a sideshow.

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

Former refugee warns Cambodia not ready to accept asylum seekers

No fond memories: Youhorn Chea fled Cambodia more than 30 years ago when the Khmer Rouge was in power. Photo: Wayne TaylorLike it was yesterday, Youhorn Chea recalls being crammed into the back of a truck by people smugglers and making the dangerous 300-kilometre journey across the Cambodian border into Thailand.
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It has been more than 30 years since he fled the Khmer Rouge regime, which claimed both his parents and five of his siblings, but he still remembers every detail; navigating landmines, armed gangs swarming the jungle, soldiers indiscriminately shooting refugees in the night.

After a year in a Thai refugee camp, Mr Chea eventually made it to Australia with his family. Now president of the Cambodian Association of Victoria, he has condemned the federal government’s plan to resettle refugees in Cambodia, saying the south-east Asian country is still plagued by human rights atrocities.

”They shoot their own people there,” he said. ”The treatment for the refugees would be very bad. If they don’t listen, they will just eliminate them. They will shoot a refugee.”

Mr Chea said news of the controversial deal was designed to scare asylum seekers from coming to Australia.

”I think it will work,” he said. ”The Cambodian people still do not have any real freedom, so how can they give freedom to the refugees? There is corruption, no freedom of speech, and they discriminate against poor people. Contacts in Cambodia tell me the government is almost like the puppet of the Vietnamese regime again. The Australian government just wants to close their eyes.”

Mr Chea said the Australian-Cambodian community was “disgusted” by news of the plan. ”They all say the same thing, they can’t understand why Australia would send refugees there. No one wants to go there.”

Mr Chea escaped Cambodia with his wife, their four young children, and two other family members. ”There were a lot of landmines so a lot of people died,” he said. ”We each carried one of the children, but if we did not have help to carry them we would not have been able to escape.”

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Easier ways to fix budget than ‘deficit tax’

Tax credits: Dr Nicholas Gruen of Lateral Economics. Photo: Rodger Cummins Other options: Saul Eslake from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Photo: Pat Scala
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The federal government’s budget deficit could be paid back more easily, and without the political pain, if it considered alternatives to its controversial “deficit tax.”Some of Australia’s most respected economists have suggested simple policy ideas that would help the Abbott government to return the budget to surplus.Some were considered by the Henry Tax Review in 2010, which reviewed the taxation side of the federal budget.Others would affect the expenditure side of the budget, which is being considered by the Commission of Audit.“There are a few big changes we can make,” Dr Nicholas Gruen, of Lateral Economics, said.“There is a very strong case against dividend imputation (tax credits paid to shareholders).”Dr Gruen said the government could abolish dividend imputation and use the money to fund a gradual reduction in the company tax rate, to 19 per cent.He said dividend imputation is not recorded as a tax expenditure, but its cost would be well over $20 billion a year.“It would immediately solve the budget deficit problem,” Dr Gruen said.“Over time you could then phase company tax down to fully reflect the additional revenue that it brought on as the budget position gradually improved with fiscal drag and economic growth,” he said.Saul Eslake, the chief economist of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said the Abbott government could abolish negative gearing, broaden the base of the income tax system, and stop taxing trusts as companies.“This last idea was something Joe Hockey advocated soon after becoming shadow treasurer, only to be slapped down by many of his colleagues,” Mr Eslake said.“I’d also eliminate the seniors tax offset, and I’d reintroduce indexation of the petroleum products excise.”This  proposal was backed by Chris Richardson, the director of Deloitte Access Economics.“It’s now 13 years since we stopped indexing the petrol excise,” he said.”It’s been frozen at 38.1 cents a litre for 13 years now and there is no possible word to use for that other than ‘dumb’.”That is because we are making the decision every day as a nation to reduce fuel tax as a share of our purchasing power, he said.“And I would prefer that they adopted Henry Review-style treatment of superannuation, so the biggest benefits do not go to the highest income earners”.Mr Richardson supported the Commission of Audit, because it was looking at ways to reduce spending and the “biggest mistakes of the past decade” have been in spending.He said Australian governments “overdid it” with family benefit payments, with baby bonuses, and the increase in corporate welfare.“This happened under both sides of politics,” he said.Mr Eslake said one of the ideas from the Henry Tax Review – to introduce a minerals resource rent tax – was laudable in principle.“[That review] recommended a minerals resource rent tax, and while I am, in principle, in favour of such a tax I never was in favour of the form of it that Henry recommended, he said.“But clearly that’s not going to happen anyway”. 

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Decision to quit vindicated: White

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 24: Jake White, Director of Rugby of the Sharks during the Sharks captain’s run at Growthpoint Kings Park on April 24, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images) Photo: Gallo ImagesFormer ACT Brumbies coach Jake White says he has no regrets about quitting the club last year, adding the timing of his departure was “win-win” and has been vindicated by the Canberra team’s ongoing success this year.
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White is back in Australia preparing to lead the Durban Sharks on a four-game Australia-New Zealand tour, which includes a potential top-of-the-table blockbuster against the Brumbies in Canberra on May 10.

White’s abrupt departure last year, two years into a four-year deal, shocked Brumbies players and fans.

The South African mentor hoped he wouldn’t be subjected to a backlash from Canberra supporters, the Brumbies toying with plans to encourage fans to wear white to the game as part of a “White-out”.

But with the Sharks and Brumbies first and second respectively on the Super Rugby ladder, White felt both camps had benefited.

“I genuinely thought it was a win-win situation for everybody,” White said of his departure from the Brumbies. “In a lot of ways that has been vindicated now by the way the Brumbies have continued their success.

“From the bottom of my heart I believe the Brumbies are in a great place. [Leaving] was never done with any bad intent.

“[New coach] Stephen Larkham is doing a great job … I really believe everything I set out to do [at the Brumbies] is coming to fruition.

“I can’t emphasise how much I loved my time in Canberra, it was one of the highlights of my coaching career. I don’t have any regrets. It would be sad for me if I arrive and it leaves a bitter taste.”

White said the changing landscape of Australian sport was part of his decision to return to South Africa.

He was in contention to coach the Wallabies when Robbie Deans was sacked, but the ARU opted for Ewen McKenzie. ARU chief executive Bill Pulver had admitted one of McKenzie’s key advantages was coaching to “play the Australian way”.

“When I arrived in Canberra there were three foreign coaches in charge of national soccer, cricket and rugby union teams and the ARU always made clear there would be opportunities,” White said.

“That landscape changed, there was no reason and it’s not right or wrong. But it had a significant impact on whether I wanted to stay miles and miles away from my family.

“I want to coach internationally and anywhere in the world but you need opportunity. I would have loved to have finished my contract [at the Brumbies] but I really believe it was the right decision, despite how difficult it was.

“[In 2011] the Brumbies fired a coach [Andy Friend] two games into the season. For me, clubs can’t have their cake and eat it.”

White rebuilt the Brumbies when he started as coach in 2012, beginning with just three Australian Wallabies players on his roster. That has grown to 15.

The Brumbies narrowly missed the finals in his first season before charging to the grand final last year, losing to the Waikato Chiefs.

White hopes his knowledge of Australian rugby will help the Sharks to become the first South African team to win abroad this season, playing the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

The Brumbies fly to Christchurch to play the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday, aiming to break a 14-year drought against the Crusaders in New Zealand.

The Sharks are basing themselves in Sydney during the two-week tour. White will only bring his team to Canberra on the eve of the May 10 match against the Brumbies.

“When is the right time to leave? I did what I thought was the right thing. If there are people that aren’t happy, I understand that. You can never make everybody happy.

“It’s easy to look back in hindsight … I know in my heart there was a decision that had to be made. Whether it suited the Brumbies, probably not.

“Coaches leave clubs, it happens. [NRL coach] Des Hasler left Manly. Ricky Stuart is now coaching Canberra. Timing is never easy, it’s about understanding where you want to be and where you want to go.”

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