Archive for April, 2019

NSW Police Association Central Hunter branch offered 10 new police positions from NSW Police Force senior executive

Maitland’s plea for more policehas been answered with NSW Police senior management offering 10 new positions to the Central Hunter.
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And in a further show of support for the regioneight officers have been earmarked for the Hunter Valley command, which includes Singleton and Muswellbrook.

The offer comes after the NSW Police Association Central Hunterbranch took up industrial action in November as frustrations abouta lackof numbers boiled over.

The branch had called for 20 new positions, butbranch chairman Mitch Dubojski said 10 was a“very good start”.

“This isn’t a win or loss scenario, but it’s a large step forward,” Mr Dubojski said.

“It will help enhance our response times and allow us to provide a better service to the community.”

The branch is expected to formally endorse the offeron Thursday.

Read more: Police battle very thin blue lineNot a single new copNew police structure becomes clearerFrustrations grew after the NSW Police Force senior executivepromised that its long-awaited policere-engineering process would put more boots on the ground in exchange for an overhaul of the existing commandstructure. ButMr Dubojski said at the time no assurances on extra numbers had been given, hence the decision to proceed with industrial action.

Action was called off after a few weeks whenthe Police Commissioner pledgedto assess what additional resources were neededby mid-December.

The Central Hunter will splitinto two new-look districts under the re-engineering process in January. Mr Dubojski said the 10 new positions will move with Maitland into the Port Stephens-Hunter district when the changes come into effect.

Who the new officers will be and when they will start is yet to be decided, but Mr Dubojski said he was glad they had an answer on the numbers.

“The re-engineering process has been tremendously stressful,” he said.

“This isdefinitely going to provide everyone with more of a positive outlook towards what they’re doing. Especially coming up to the festive season, which is always a busy time for us.

“It’s very reassuring that the senior executive has listened to our concerns and balanced out numbers with the needs of the community.

“We want to thank the community for all of its support.”



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ACCC has gas pipeline monopoly in its sights

PICTURE BY JAMES DAVIES. DUKE ENERGY AUSTRALIA LAUNCH OF THE GAS TRADING HUB. LONGFORD VICTORIA. VICHUB CONNECTS THE EASTERN PIPELINE AND THE TASMANIAN GAS PIPELINE TO THE GASNET SYSTEM. GAS NATURAL GAS PIPE LINE ENERGY TRADING HUB INTERCONNECTION MARKET VICHUB SPECIALX 001The n Consumer and Competition Commission is looking to drive down energy prices by targeting the gas pipelines market, following the release of its domestic gas shortage inquiry.
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The ACCC Gas Inquiry 2017-2020 report found that while action has been taken by energy companies to remedy a predicted domestic gas shortfall across the east coast, prices still remain high.

It also supported the potential of AGL’s LNG regasification plant in Victoria to reduce the state’s gas shortages.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that while energy companies have acted to address a forecast domestic gas shortfall of up to 108 petajoules on the east coast, and create a 20 petajoule surplus on the horizon, the market remains challenging.

“It’s still a tight market, price offers for industrial users have come down from $16 per gigajoule to between $8 to $12 per gigajoules, but it should be closer to $6 to $8 per gigajoule,” Mr Sims told Fairfax Media.

“It’s still too high, but it is an improvement.”

Mr Sims said the next major focus for the ACCC is reducing the impact of ‘s pipeline monopoly.

“We want to regulate the pipeline monopoly,” Mr Sims told Fairfax Media.

“We can’t break up it as the situation is what it is, but there are actions we can take.”

The majority of ‘s gas pipelines are owned by three companies, APA Group, Jemena, and n Gas Networks.

Mr Sims said the ACCC will first ensure pipeline owners cannot stop others from accessing gas pipelines.

Secondly, in terms of pricing, Mr Sims said there will now be an arbitration system put in place where issues over access exist.

“This means when contracts expire companies can seek arbitration.”

He said these actions will have a direct impact on gas prices and better results for gas users.

“In two to three years pipeline prices will come down, and we’ll see lower flow-on prices in Victoria and NSW,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC also backed the potential for AGL’s proposed, $250 million Crib Point floating LNG terminal, in Victoria.

“If viable, an LNG regasification terminal could be an alternative form of transport for bringing additional gas into the southern states,” the report said.

Mr Sims said there were a number of ways Victoria could address its forecast gas shortfall.

“The better way for Victoria is through access to gas in the state, but if it continues to be dependent on Queensland for gas, then a regasification facility makes sense,” he said.

AGL aims to begin construction of the facility in 2019, and sourcing LNG from the global market in 2020/21.

Speaking at the n Financial Review’s National Energy Summit earlier this year, Morgan Stanley analyst Rob Koh said AGL’s planned import facility makes economic sense.

“I think it’s not a bad idea for AGL to be talking about it and to be planning for that,” Mr Koh said.

“Part of that dynamic for AGL is having a reliable supply of gas to the southern markets. As we know, the marginal producer at the moment is in Queensland and the cost of shipping gas from the northern markets to the southern markets is in the order of $2.70.

“So finding another route that is another alternative to that is potentially a good idea.”



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‘Still so many stereotypes’: The top 2017 HSC students revealed

When Bianca Ritter decided she wanted to study traditionally male-dominated subjects for the HSC, including construction and industrial technology specialising in timber, most people questioned her choices.
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“I was interested in the more masculine subjects but there are still so many stereotypes and a lot of stigma around females in those areas and so many people asked ‘why would she do it, especially because I have always been a pretty good student’,” Bianca said.

But the high-achieving Mount Carmel College student proved them wrong and has topped the state in construction.

As the state’s graduating high school class of 2017 nervously await their HSC results to be released at 6am on Thursday, the NSW Education Standards Authority celebrated the students who topped a course at a special ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday.

Bianca was one of 120 students from 85 schools who topped one of 114 HSC subjects, with eight students coming first in more than one.

Seven students topped two courses each, including the same two students who came equal first in Music 2 and Music Extension.

Selective high schools Fort Street and North Sydney Boys had the most number of students who topped a course, with four from Fort Street – including two students who came first in two subjects – and North Sydney Boys had four students who came first in their course, including one who topped two subjects.

Julian van Gerwen, a year 11 student from Fort Street High, came first in mathematics and mathematics extension 1, while his classmate Angela Zha topped German continuers and German extension.

Hebe Larkin, from Pymble Ladies College, was the only student to have placed first in three subjects (Classical Greek continuers, Classical Greek extension and Latin continuers).

The schools were split fairly evenly between 45 government schools (including selective and language schools) and 40 non-government schools, including 17 Catholic schools.

The Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, described the students as the “shining stars of this year’s HSC”.

“The HSC is challenging for every student, so to come first in a course is an outstanding achievement,” Ms Berejiklian said.

These students have risen to their potential through ability, hard work and enthusiasm for their studies.”

Bianca plans to take a year off from her studies next year to travel but then hopes to work in construction project management or interior design.

“I haven’t applied for university yet because after 13 years of school, I am ready for a break,” she said.

Explore the full list below.



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Regulator targets underperforming super funds

The n Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) intends to beef up standards to make super funds accountable for poor performance and justify their expenditure on marketing and advertising.
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APRA deputy chair Helen Rowell said super fund members deserve confidence their fund is “delivering quality, value-for-money outcomes” as she released consultation papers outlining the proposed changes.

The move comes after the regulator wrote to super funds in August demanding meetings with funds failing to deliver “quality” outcomes for members.

In the August letter, APRA targeted funds who were poor performers based on a range of data, including returns, costs to members, insurance costs and the impacts on members of funds experiencing declines in member numbers.

APRA did not name the funds or say how many were in its sights.

The regulator is proposing a toughening of standards so there is an “outcomes” assessment that will apply to all investment options – “choice” investment options and the “MySuper” options, the options with more protections for those who do not choose a fund.

The Turnbull government has prepared a bill that requires funds to audit performance annually and to make the results public, but it applies to MySuper options only.

APRA proposes a regulatory change to ensure trustees have more robust processes in place concerning their expenditure, including on advertising and marketing, and how that supports better outcomes for members.

APRA believes there should be a clear purpose for the spending and trustees must show they have been able to deliver on that purpose.

A blanket advertising campaign that has not delivered a benefit in terms of more members or increased contributions would be unlikely to meet the value for money test.

The proposed standards come despite the royal commission into banking and other financial services entities, which includes super funds. The government wants to start the commission in February and run it for a year.

The royal commission will consider if super funds are using members’ savings for “any purpose that does not meet community standards and expectations, or is otherwise not in the best interests of members”.

Under another of APRA’s proposed changes, funds would be required to make it much easier for members to not only opt out of life insurance, but also to increase their cover.

Sometimes it is hard to members as they have to fill out forms, and the regulator want funds to make it straightforward and simple for them.

Submissions on APRA’s consultation papers are open until 29 March 2018.

The new and revised prudential measures are expected to be released by mid-2018, with a proposed commencement date of 1 January 2019.



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No action against Ipswich developer over Brookwater Resort

The corporate watchdog was tipped off almost a year ago about developer Richard Turner allegedly selling units in a proposed Queensland golf resort scheme he no longer controlled, but determined it would not take any action.
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Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission, the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and Ipswich City Council also received complaints about possible misrepresentation by the then-mayor and CEO supporting the Brookwater resort scheme from August 2015 onwards, but the investigations cleared them.

Fairfax Media revealed allegations on Tuesday that Mr Turner has continued to market and sell apartments in the scheme even though his landholding company was taken over by receivers in October 2016, raising a further $3 million in deposits from mum-and-dad investors in and overseas.

Documents show money has been raised since the October 2016 receivership of the company through which Mr Turner owned the land earmarked for the first phase of the scheme.

Correspondence obtained by Fairfax Media shows that in November 2016 the corporate regulator ASIC wrote to former Ipswich mayoral candidate Gary Duffy regarding his concerns about the scheme.

“You have raised concerns that Brookwater may have misled the public by continuing to promote its resort development after they had lost possession of the land allocated to the resort,” ASIC official John Searle wrote to Mr Duffy.

“We conducted our own inquiries to obtain additional information … weighed the obligations under law against the evidence available, and have determined that we will not take action.”

A month later Queensland’s corruption watchdog similarly rejected a complaint from Mr Duffy alleging that the then-mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale, and then-council chief executive Jim Lindsay had misled the public by promoting the scheme despite knowing of its financial troubles.

“I understand you allege that Cr Pisasale and Mr Lindsay have purposely engaged in dishonest behaviour to deceive the public regarding the Brookwater Resort by improperly promoting it and its developers Brookwater Resort Investments Pty Ltd, despite knowing there were problems with the company as early as August 2015,” Kylee Rumble, the CCC’s director of integrity services, wrote to Mr Duffy on December 6, 2016.

“We have decided that the information you have provided us … does not enliven the CCC’s jurisdiction because the conduct would not, if proved, constitute any criminal offence or be a disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for terminating Mr Lindsay’s services.”

Ipswich City Council said it had received a similar complaint regarding the conduct of Cr Pisasale and Mr Lindsay via the Department of Local Government and had investigated it internally.

A council spokesman said city solicitor Dan Best had conducted the probe because “clearly the chief executive can’t investigate himself”, and had found that “the complaint lacked substance”.

“It found there was no evidence to suggest any misleading or deceptive conduct under the n Consumer Law, investment fraud, misconduct under the Local Government Act 2009, a breach of trust, or corrupt conduct,” the spokesman said.

Correspondence seen by Fairfax Media shows an unrelated complainant with knowledge of the scheme began raising issues about the development directly with Cr Pisasale and Mr Lindsay in August 2015.

The correspondence indicates Cr Pisasale’s first action was to tip off Mr Turner about the complaint. The council declined to investigate, telling the complainant in July 2016 that the allegations of “misconduct, malpractice and illegal actions” were for other authorities to deal with.

Mr Turner’s companies are understood to have sold almost all of the 168 units in the first phase of the resort, with two-bed apartments offered at between $580,000 and $800,000.

A real estate agent instructed by Mr Turner, Deric Ly of Global RE in Liverpool, told Fairfax Media there were hopes to pre-sell a second phase of the resort, involving a further 130 residential units.

The land earmarked for the first phase of the resort has since June this year been owned by Lendings Pty Ltd, a company controlled by the Melbourne-based Hunt family. It has had no dealings with Mr Turner.

Springfield Land Corporation, which owns the rest of the land intended for the resort, said it had terminated all its development option agreements with Mr Turner in October 2016.

But Mr Turner’s lawyer denied this, saying the assertion that the option agreements were terminated “is not consistent with what our client has instructed us is the current arrangement”.

His solicitor, Joe Welch of Gold Coast firm Hickey Lawyers, has said that to the best of his client’s knowledge, sales had been made according to the relevant laws regulating the sale of proposed lots.



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