Archive for November, 2018 | Monthly archive page

Manly Sea Eagles clash with Warringah Council over Brookvale Oval rent

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Sea Eagles debt to council

Warringah Council and the Manly Sea Eagles are going head to head in a dispute over the rent of the team’s home ground at Brookvale Oval.

The parties have been clashing since the council offered the NRL club the same rent as for the past two years – $375,000 per season, but the club has demanded a $155,000 annual reduction.

The NRL club launched a campaign known as “Fight for Fortress Brookie” over the weekend, calling on members, sponsors and community groups to pledge their support for the proposal.

The club released video interviews on their Facebook page with Sea Eagles players asking their fans to help stop the council from “kicking [them] out by charging unrealistic hiring fees.”

Sea Eagles captain Jamie Lyon said the “battle” over Brookvale Oval was “one that the club must win.”

“I am very surprised that Warringah Council is not supporting the Sea Eagles,” Lyon said.

“Most other local councils would jump at the opportunity to have an NRL team in their backyard, especially one as successful and well known as the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.”

But the club’s campaign is being aggressively resisted by Warringah Mayor Michael Regan, who said the council was legally unable to reduce the lease due to regulations imposed by the government during the state’s council amalgamation process.

“Here’s the sad truth: even if we wanted to, we can’t legally put a $155,000 hole in our budget while our boundaries are under review,” Mr Regan said.

“The government sent out strict instructions saying that whilst you’re in this period you are unable to enter into anything that may jeopardise future councils in any sort of financial terms.”

The government regulations instruct councils not to make “significant and/or ongoing financial commitments that will be binding on a new council.”

According to Mr Regan, any budget hole would place a larger burden on ratepayers, including new ratepayers from Mosman, following a proposed amalgamation.

Mr Regan said that the Sea Eagles’ campaign against the council was “phony and misleading,” and called for the club’s management to “clean with their real motives and be honest” to their fans.

“They threatened a media war if we didn’t drop our price and now they’re pretending the rent is too high,” Mr Regan said.

“We all love the Sea Eagles but they are run by a private, profit making company. A company [that is] constantly sledging Council in the media and unnecessarily angering fans… to try and get cheaper rent on a public park.”

Mr Regan suggested the team’s management might have promoted the campaign to retain fans while justifying a move to more profitable venues.

“My suspicion – and the members who have spoken openly to me – is it’s all about trying to take games away from Brookvale Oval to earn more money for the owners and the management,” he said.

“They want a scapegoat.”

Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly said the club proposed “a hire fee figure three-times the benchmark being paid by other NRL clubs” but said that was “quickly dismissed” by council.

Mr Kelly denied that the club was trying to move games to other venues, and said the club is lobbying the government for additional funding to improve the oval’s infrastructure and community facilities.

“Even during this current dispute we haven’t discussed moving any of our fixtures that are scheduled at Brookvale for 2016,” Mr Kelly said.

The football club is 90 per cent owned by Penn Sport, controlled by the Penn family, and 10 per cent owned by the Manly-Warringah Rugby League Football Club.

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Shooters MP Robert Borsak lashed by Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton over perjury claims

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak. Photo: Max Mason-HubersAttorney-General Gabrielle Upton has accused NSW MP Robert Borsak of an “outrageous slur” on the justice system over his claim that perjury charges against him are the result of political pressure.

Mr Borsak, one of two Shooters and Fishers MPs in the NSW upper house, has been charged with four counts of perjury after after a judge said that he gave false evidence in the Supreme Court.

It comes more than four and a half years after Fairfax Media revealed Justice Robert McDougall said Mr Borsak and a business associate, David Christie, gave “knowingly untrue” evidence during hearings to resolve a commercial dispute.

Lying under oath carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail. If convicted, Mr Borsak could lose his seat in parliament and much of his parliamentary pension.

On Saturday, Mr Borsak – whose party shared the balance of power after the 2011 election won by former Premier Barry O’Farrell – suggested the charges were “payback for what I did to O’Farrell”.

Mr Borsak and his colleague Robert Brown cut a deal with the O’Farrell government to pass its electricity privatisation legislation in return for allowing shooting in national parks.

The relationship broke down after the MPs accused Mr O’Farrell of reneging on the deal and the Shooters and Fishers party began to use its numbers to block government legislation.

But Ms Upton attacked the allegation as “a baseless and outrageous slur against the NSW justice system”.

“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions operates wholly independently of Government,” she said.

“Mr Borsak’s shameless accusations show a complete lack of respect for the independence of police and the courts, and the serious perjury charges he is facing.”

She said the claims were “a smokescreen for serious charges of perjury which will be decided by the court, as is right and proper”.

In his judgment, Justice McDougall said Mr Borsak and Mr Christie “swore and maintained in the face of detailed and forceful cross-examination” that they were provided with copies of the financial statements of a sheet metal company, Osborne Metal Industries, they were about to purchase for $1.4 million from businessman Roy Jackson in 2004.

They claimed the financial statements overestimated the company profits.

However, Justice McDougall found the claim could not be correct, as the documents were not created until nine days after Mr Borsak and Mr Christie claimed to have received them.

He found that Mr Jackson’s company, Bullock Manufacturing, should pay Osborne Metal Industries more than $900,000 relating to the sale.

The perjury matter is next due in Downing Centre local court on February 4.

Mr Jackson has since died of a lung condition. Mr Borsak and Mr O’Farrell declined to comment.

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Democratic debate comes down to Obama legacy or deeper ‘revolution’

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Not only clashing: Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders confer during a break. Photo: Mic SmithDuring the last Democratic candidates debate to be held before the crucial first primary competition in Iowa real differences emerged between the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist candidate who has emerged to challenge her from the left.

As the two clashed time and again, particularly over healthcare and gun regulation, it became even clearer that Clinton is determined to cast her race for the White House as one for a third Obama term, while Senator Sanders is calling for what he calls a “revolution” in American politics.

Despite the heated clashes in the debate – held in the Clinton stronghold of South Carolina – the candidates focused on issues and refused to engage in personal attacks.

Indeed at one point when he was asked to comment on former President Bill Clinton’s personal indiscretions, Sanders replied to increasing applause, “That question annoys me.  I cannot walk down the street – Secretary Clinton knows this – without being told how much I have to attack Secretary Clinton … I have avoided doing that, I’m trying to run an issues-oriented campaign.”

And on the issues they did disagree – as did Martin O’Malley​, the former Maryland governor trailing in the race, and also in the debate.

A crucial point of difference is over healthcare, an issue that both have campaigned on over long careers.

Though Clinton once championed a single-payer public health system similar to Australia’s, she now advocates sticking with and improving Obamacare​.

“I don’t to want see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it,” she said at one point.

But Sanders still believes in massive reform to a single-payer system, and during the debate he linked it to the broader issue that he is strongest on – highlighting the enervating impact of big money in America’s political system.

“Do you know why we can’t do what every other major country is doing [in healthcare]? It’s because we have a campaign finance system that is corrupt, we have Super PACs, we have the pharmaceutical industry pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into campaign contributions and lobbying.”

The most heated clashes came on the issue of gun control, an area in which Clinton’s record is more in line with the gun-control movement that is now broadly supported within the Democratic base.

The debate was held just steps from the Mother Emmanuel Church in which nine-people were gunned down by a racist young man last year.

Clinton said Sanders had a long record of supporting NRA-backed votes, adding that she welcomed his changed position on one set of laws that protects gun manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits.

Sanders rejected the criticism. “I think that Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous,” he said.

The longevity and strength of the Sanders campaign has shocked the Clinton camp, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is challenging her in the polls.

Though Clinton retains a comfortable 51 to 38.3 lead nationally, Sanders is within four points in Iowa according to the Real Clear Politics Poll average.

It is hard to see that this fourth debate will change that much, especially as it was held at 9pm East Coast time on the Sunday night of a long weekend.

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Clive Palmer’s political career on the brink after business meltdown

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Clive Palmer’s political future remains unclear. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Happier times: Clive Palmer with Ricky Muir and senators from his party who were elected in 2013. Photo: Rob Homer

Clive Palmer’s nickel refinery in voluntary administrationPalmer company donated $290,000 to his party weeks before 237 job losses

Clive Palmer’s election prospects are in freefall alongside his slumping nickel business, according to experienced political pundits.

ABC election guru Antony Green believes the Palmer United Party’s vote at the next federal election will all but “disappear” while minor parties powerbroker Glenn Druery said PUP would currently attract no more than 2 per cent of the primary vote, with its only chance of success a single Senate seat in either Queensland or Western Australia.

Mr Green said the strife at Mr Palmer’s Townsville-based Queensland Nickel refinery, which was placed in administration on Monday after sacking 237 workers on Friday, has been the biggest blow so far to the shrinking PUP.

The high point for the party was taking nearly 10 per cent of the primary Senate vote in Queensland at the 2013 election and more than 12 per cent in the WA rerun in 2014 – both after big-spending campaigns backed by Mr Palmer’s business interests.

“I would guess that that vote has just disappeared,” said Mr Green.

“The combination of his business problems and his inability to hold on to senators [Jacqui Lambie and Glen Lazarus, who both defected from PUP] suggests the party is a one-hit wonder.

“The biggest damage has been from the business side of things. The company has gone belly up but he has been making all these donations from the company to PUP.”

Queensland Nickel registered a donation of $290,000 to PUP on December 31 and gave $15.2 million and $5.9 million in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years, respectively.

In the months after the 2013 Coalition election win, Mr Palmer was perhaps the most powerful political figure in Australia after then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with his bloc of three crossbench votes critical to the passage of any government bill opposed by Labor and the Greens.

But Mr Green said Mr Palmer was very unlikely to even retain his own seat of Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast if he stands again and the party’s only chance of success would be if the PUP leader ran for a Senate seat in Queensland.

In August, Fairfax Media revealed Mr Palmer was weighing up a switch to the Senate after moving to lock in a powerful preference swap deal with crossbenchers David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party and Family First’s Bob Day.

Mr Druery, the so-called “preference whisperer”, said recent byelections highlighted the waning appeal of PUP.

The party pulled a paltry 0.5 per cent of the primary vote in North Sydney and its vote more than halved to just 3.1 per cent in the WA seat of Canning despite having pulled the so-called “donkey vote” position at the top of the ballot paper.

“I don’t believe Clive’s money will be enough to win him a seat. He will need to be very clever if he is to be successful,” Mr Druery said.

A spokesman for Mr Palmer could not be reached. Queensland Nickel, owned wholly by Mr Palmer, was placed into voluntary administration but managing director Clive Mensink, who is Mr Palmer’s nephew, said he was confident it would trade its way back to health.

Amid trouble on other business fronts, including a long-running legal dispute with his Chinese partners in an iron ore project in WA, Mr Mensink has called the PUP leader a “hero” for staking $2.5 million of his personal wealth to pay nickel workers before Christmas.

Once regularly referred to as a “billionaire”, in January last year Mr Palmer fell out of the Forbes top 50 business rich list. That means his estimated wealth had fallen below $690 million.

Plunging commodity prices further eroded his fortune in 2015 and it was reported in December that he has been forced to sell two private jets while two others he owns sit idle in Brisbane.

Treasurer Scott Morrison on Monday questioned Mr Palmer’s handling of the Queensland Nickel issue.

“Clive has a lot to answer for up there,” he said.

“Asking the Queensland or even the federal government to bail him out is a bit rich.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it didn’t matter if the company was Mr Palmer’s or Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s. “I want to be reassured that the entitlements are there for the workforce,” he said.

Despite expressing concern for the workers involved, he said he did not think it was “automatically” the government’s role to bail out uncompetitive businesses.

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