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Archive for November, 2018

MP in New York massage scam: ‘I was absolutely terrified’

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward found himself facing an extortion attempt in New York after ordering an online massage. Picture: Georgia MattsKiama MP Gareth Ward was “terrified” he could be shot or stabbed following a confrontation with a pair of extortionists in a New York hotel.
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The Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra was on a stopover in New York for a few days before heading to Canada for a conference for parliamentarians with a disability.

The legally-blind MP was staying at the Intercontinental Hotel on 44th Street near Broadwaywhen he booked a massage online on Tuesday evening.

Mr Ward refuted media claims he asked for a“special massage”, stating it was a request for a standard $100 massage that he needed after walking around all day.

When he answered a knock on his hotel room door, Mr Ward opened it and saw two men standing there.

When “it became clear there was more on offer” than just a massage, Mr Ward said he asked the two mento leave.

“They became aggressiveand when they wouldn’tleave I was goingto call security,” Mr Ward said.

“Then they pulled out a phone with a camera and put it in my face and said, ‘we’re goingto tell people that you had raped me’ and all that sort of stuff.

“He said ‘I want $1000, I want $1000 and if you don’tgive me $1000 I’m going to plaster [the video]all over the internet’.”

Mr Ward described the confrontation as “frightening” –“I don’t think I have ever been that scared” –and he wondered if one of the men was armed.

“That was my first thought,” he said.“That there was a knife, there was a gun. I was terrified, I was absolutely terrified.”

Still, he had the presence of mind to get the men to follow him down to the foyer, where there was an ATM.

He knew it was therebecause he’d withdrawn money from it on the day he arrived at the hotel.

But once there, he had no intention of withdrawing any cash this time.

“I turned the corner and then literally ran over to the desk and said ‘call the police, these guys are trying to rob me’,” he said.

“That’s when they bolted.”

The Kiama MP then reported the incident to New York Citypolice.

“They said it happens all the time, that it happens frequently and they’ll be investigating,” Mr Ward said.

He said he told police he was travelling onto Canada and they informed Mr Ward that he was fine to travel.

Mr Ward said he knew what people were going think about the incident.

“I’ll wear the embarrassment,” he said.“The mediahas accused me of all sorts of things.

“I am just holding my steadfast cool because I know I have done nothing wrong.”

Illawarra Mercury

Keep calm and let the High Court carry on: John Howard

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

John Howard addressed the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 7 September 2016. Photo: Andrew Meares Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House Canberra on Thursday 22 June 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Keep calm and let the constitutional citizenship fiasco run its course, former prime minister John Howard has advised, as the High Court saga threatens to engulf its eighth federal politician.

“My view about this is nobody is to blame and I think trying to apportion blame, and people running around and saying ‘oh you knew about this’, or ‘you should have known’, I think that is silly,” he told ABC radio.

Victorian crossbench senator Derryn Hinch was the latest politician to become caught up in the crisis, confirming on Wednesday night he holds a United States social security number.

Senator Hinch said on Thursday he suspected someone close to him had leaked the details of his US social security number to the media.

“Someone has done it, someone doesn’t like me,” he said.

Senator Hinch lived in the US for 10 years as a reporter for Fairfax Media, but said he did not become a citizen and never held a green card.

He said he paid an additional tax over the decade which made him eligible for an American pension, a payment he stopped when he was sworn into parliament.

That potentially could make him the test case for another part of section 44 which prohibits people who are “entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power” from standing for parliament, a section that was yet to be examined by the court.

Immediately after Greens MPs Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned from Parliament after discovering they held dual citizenship, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull went on the attack, calling their failure to check “incredible sloppiness” and “extraordinary negligence”.

Since then, three of his cabinet ministers were found to be dual-citizens, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Mr Joyce, Fiona Nash and Matt Canavan will have their eligibility for election examined by the High Court in October, along with One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, crossbencher Nick Xenophon and both Ms Waters and Mr Ludlam.

Under section 44, part (i) of the Australian constitution, a person is disqualified from standing for Parliament if they are “under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

Senator Hinch’s case could rest on the key question of entitlement, and how the High Court interprets that in other matters.

Constitutional expert George Williams told the National Press Club on Wednesday that if a strict test of entitlement was applied, “tens of people” within Parliament could face court challenges.

Mr Howard said Australia was not the first nation to deal with issues arising from interpretations of its founding document and called for calm, as there was “nothing you can do about it”.

“Let’s just draw a deep breath, accept that this is a case that years ago, when the constitution was written, if you lived in Canada or Britain or New Zealand etc, you didn’t have a separate nationality, we were all subjects of the British Empire, there was no Australian nationality until 1948.

“We just have to let it work its way through and accept that the High Court will rule and whatever the High Court decides, that’s the law, because we live by the rule of law.

“But I don’t think it is a crisis for Australian democracy and I am frankly surprised people are running around trying to apportion partisan blame, I don’t think it is a case for that.”

Senator Hinch told the ABC he would ask for advice on his situation and refer himself if necessary, but believed he met all the eligibility requirements.

Mr Turnbull said he remained confident, based on advice from the Solicitor-General, his MPs would emerged unscathed from the High Court challenge.

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

Harvey Norman punished after dividend cut

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

A record profit has not been enough to save Harvey Norman from a sharemarket savaging after the retailer cut its full-year dividend on Thursday.
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Harvey Norman shares had fallen 7 per cent – or 31?? a share – by midday after it announced a fully franked 26?? a share dividend for the the 2017 financial year, down from 30?? in 2016.

The company said it was reviewing its capital management and weighing up a share buyback and possible investments.

The sell-off came despite Harvey Norman announcing its net profit jumped 29 per cent to $449 million for the year, beating analysts’ expectations.

Sales from company-owned stores in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Croatia rose 2.1 per cent and earnings jumped 24 per cent to $90 million.

“This is a fantastic effort from our offshore operations,” company chairman Gerry Harvey said in a statement.

“The success of our flagship strategy is clearly evident in these results.”

Australian franchisee sales increased 5.4 per cent to $5.62 billion as housing construction and renovation continued to be “robust”, Mr Harvey said.

This sales growth and higher franchisee fees sent Harvey Norman head office’s earnings from Australian stores up 13 per cent to $304.5 million, the company said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Tom Kierath said there had been a “considerable slowing” in comparable sales at Harvey Norman in the fourth quarter, growing at 2.3 per cent compared to 7.4 per cent in January and February.

Harvey Norman’s share price has slid by almost a quarter over the past year, under the weight of fears Amazon will eat into its sales and profitability when the American online retailer opens in Australia next year.

Citi analysts have suggested competition from Amazon could force Harvey Norman to lower its profit margin by between 1.8 and 2.5 per cent.

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

Alan Jones accused of inciting violence against women in Cloud Arch tweet

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

“Can you believe it?”: Alan Jones took to Twitter on Thursday to attack the Cloud Arch sculpture. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBroadcaster Alan Jones has been accused of inciting violence against women in a tweet attacking City of Sydney’s controversial artwork, the Cloud Arch, and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
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Taking to Twitter on Thursday, the 2GB host slammed the City of Sydney’s proposed Cloud Arch sculpture, a 58-metre artwork that will frame the city’s Town Hall.

It’s a project backed by Cr Moore, and has been at the centre of a long-running battle between the city’s councillors. Last week, it was revealed the structure’s revised cost had increased from $3.5 million to $11.3 million.

“$11.3m – can you believe it? You can guess what many people would rather hang 58 metres over George Street…and it’s not a Cloud Arch,” Jones published to his 8000 followers.

People were quick to allege the man, who describes himself online as “Australia’s most influential and respected radio broadcaster”, was once again inciting violence against women.

While others suggested he was referring to a rainbow flag or Canberra’s famous Skywhale, a controversial hot air balloon.

Thursday’s tweet is the latest recorded incident of the self-proclaimed feminist using visceral language when referencing issues championed by some of the country’s female politicians.

Last month during a fiery exchange with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian he warned that her head “was in a noose” over her government’s mining policy in the Liverpool Plains.

In 2012, after numerous advertisers and sponsors threatened to abandon his radio show, he apologised to former prime minister Julia Gillard after he suggested she should be “shoved” in a “chaff bag” and taken “far out to sea”.

In the same speech, which was secretly recorded at a Sydney University Liberal Club President’s dinner, he suggested Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame”.

Jones has also compared previous NSW premier Mike Baird to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fairfax Media has approached Clover Moore for comment.

Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, is a majority owner of 2GB.

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

Harbour precinct open to the public for the first time in 150 years

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Sub Base Platypus looking towards North Sydney. Photo: SuppliedIt is one of Sydney Habour’s hidden gems. A sprawling precinct, dotted with empty warehouses and old factories, overlooking the water on Sydney’s north shore.
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For more than 150 years it has been closed to the public.

But all that is about to change. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is opening up the 1.8 hectare site in the hope it will become Sydney’s newest cultural and commercial hub.

Located less than a kilometre from North Sydney’s CBD, the site was once a gasworks factory and later became a submarine base known as HMAS Platypus.

On Thursday, the precinct was publicly unveiled and relaunched as Sub Base Platypus.

Chief executive of the Harbour Trust, Mary Darwell, said parts of the site will be opened to the public from as early as mid 2018, while restoration work is completed.

“Once completed, we will see Sub Base Platypus become a special destination for Sydneysiders and visitors alike, providing a range of facilities and venues for cultural performances, function areas, cafes and restaurants, as well as offices and commercial spaces,” Ms Darwell said.

Chair of the Harbour Trust Kevin McCann, said the “industrial heritage values of the buildings will be retained, [but] the buildings and public spaces will be adapted and made available to cultural, community and commercial organisations.”

The former submarine workshops, for example, will be revitalised to provide a sequence of terraces, streets, squares and gardens.

Businesses and community organisations will be able to lease eight buildings across the precinct, including the former submarine workshops, the former torpedo factory, the old submarine school, and the old gas work offices.

The oldest building on the site is the Retort House, a prefabricated iron building which dates back to 1886 and was originally used for the conversion of coal to gas.

As a gasworks, the facility provided provide gas for street lights, homes and businesses on the North Shore.

However, the site was reclaimed for Australia’s war effort in 1942 by the Commonwealth Government and it was transformed into a torpedo manufacturing and maintenance factory. It also operated as a service facility for the naval vessels of the Pacific Fleet.

At the height of wartime production, the torpedo factory – the largest building on the precinct – employed 200 civilian workers, a quarter of whom were women. The building continued to be used for torpedo manufacturing and repair until the 1990s

The precinct took on a new role again in 1967, when it became the base of the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines and was named HMAS Platypus.