One of the state’s worst rapists and paedophiles could be released from jail next week, nine years after he sexually abused a four-year-old girl at a Lake Macquarie caravan park.
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The State of NSW has lodged an 11th-hour application to have Kevin Howard, 62, subjected to strict supervision should he be released on parole on September 3.

Even if he is not released on parole next week, Howard’s sentence for filming himself performing a series of sex acts on the girl at Teralba in 2006 expires on October 7.

Howard has spent 17 years of his adult life behind bars, the Supreme Court heard on Monday.

His sex offences date back to 1977 when, as a 24-year-old, he groped and propositioned a woman for sex while he was drunk.

Five months later, he raped a woman at knifepoint in a car park and was jailed for nine years with a non-parole period of four years.

Four months after his release in 1982, Howard and a friend went to “find a woman” in suburban Sydney when they came across a teenage couple walking along a street.

They scared off the boy and kidnapped the 17-year-old partially blind girl before repeatedly raping her in an isolated area.

Howard was jailed for 10 years with a non-parole period of five years, but ended up serving less than four years.

In 1989, while on parole, he approached three girls aged four, five and six in a Newcastle playground.

He pulled down the underwear of two of them and tried to perform a sex act on one of the girls before inviting them to go for a drive with him.

The girls said no and Howard was reported. He received 18 months’ periodic detention.

Howard was then able to abstain from his offending for more than 15 years, until he ended up living in a caravan park at Teralba.

In 2006, he lent his mobile phone to a friend who found photos of a man having sex with a child.

Howard was charged with possessing child pornography before it was discovered that the photos were of him performing sex acts on a four-year-old girl.

He was later jailed for nine years with a non-parole period of eight years.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Howard will be subjected to an interim supervision order regardless of when he is released before a hearing in November to determine whether he should be subjected to further supervision.

In the meantime, he will be assessed by two psychiatrists.

Howard has expressed a desire to live with family in Goulburn or Coffs Harbour, Justice Richard Button noted.

He has been a well-behaved prisoner and is a talented artist who has had little contact with the outside world, the court heard.

“Regrettably, the life history of the defendant demonstrates that he has an entrenched proclivity to commit very grave sexual offences against women and girls,” Justice Button said.

Newcastle Herald


Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Photo: Justin Bieber/Instagram Selena Gomez has opened up about her relationship with Justin Bieber, her friendship with Taylor Swift and her decision to take off her purity ring.
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“It’s difficult for people to separate us,” the 23-year-old singer told Britain’s Sunday Times about her relationship with Bieber. “The internet wants to freeze this moment in time and constantly repeat it.”

The pair began dating in 2010 when Gomez was 18 and Bieber was just 16. Their relationship ended last year under the intense scrutiny of the public eye.

“I didn’t think I was doing anything bad by falling in love,” she said. “There’s such an emphasis on people being the perfect thing and then destroying them because it’s good press. Throw in the fact that you’re a teenager­­­­ – it makes it more difficult.”

It was made even more difficult by the fact that, while dating Bieber she removed her purity ring, which symbolises the decision to remain a virgin until marriage.

The Heart Wants What it Wants singer asked her father for the ring when she was 13.

“I said, ‘Dad, I want a promise ring’,” she recalled. “He went to the church and got it blessed. He actually used me as an example for other kids. I’m going to keep my promise to myself, to my family and to God.”

As she grew up and then met Bieber, she changed her mind.

“I’m not embarrassed to say that,” Gomez said. “I’m also not embarrassed to say that the ring has come off. I got it when was I was 13 and I respect so much what it represented, but it isn’t for everyone.”

Although she was comfortable with her decision, she was not comfortable with the public backlash.

“Sometimes you have to lie to yourself to get through the criticism, and then you’re in your closet crying,” Gomez revealed. “It’s been like that for me a couple of times, but I only want to learn from those things.”

As she tried to navigate growing up in the public eye, the support of close friends, such as Taylor Swift, helped.

“I can count on one hand the people I could call and who would be there for me. Taylor is one of the greatest people,” Gomez said. “When I split with my first boyfriend [Nick Jonas] and I was really sad about it, she flew into town with homemade cookies and a bunch of junk food.”

Now, Gomez says she’s ready to love again and is coming to terms with that love being public.

“The next relationship will be something dear to me,” she said. “There is no way I will ever hide my life.”

Fairfax Media


Sylvia Jeffreys addresses her fashion crime. Photo: NineSylvia Jeffreys to replace Georgie GardnerKarl Stefanovic to appear in Independence Day
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Today host Sylvia Jeffreys has smacked down the Daily Mail live on air after a report the site published about an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction she suffered earlier this week.

The journalist’s white underwear was clearly visible underneath a sheer turtleneck as she posed for photos at an Ovarian Cancer Research Fund morning tea on Tuesday.

The Daily Mail wrote about the malfunction and went so far as to suggest the 29-year-old journalist was in on the act.

“She’s know [sic] for her elegant sense of style, but Sylvia Jeffreys went for more of an eye-popping look than she had perhaps planned when attending a high tea on Tuesday,” the article read.

“But the 29 year-old blonde appeared to take the minor wardrobe malfunction in her stride, shooting photographers a good-natured grin along with a look of surprise.”

Jeffreys defended herself on air on Wednesday morning with the support of her colleagues, saying she didn’t know she was flashing her underwear.

“I just want to clear up, in their report they said that I flashed a look of surprise when I realised what was going on – I had no idea what was going on. That’s just my weird resting face.”

Jeffreys’ shut down the report by pointing out she was a working woman who was clearly too busy to change.

“I was running between many commitments yesterday and didn’t have time obviously to change what was underneath every outfit.”

“It wasn’t visible to the naked eye, it was just under the photographers’ flash that that was visible, so apologies for any offence caused but I wont make the same mistake twice.”

“Thank you Daily Mail for pointing that out,” Jeffreys added sarcastically. Errrr whoops! Anything to draw attention to a good cause, I guess. Right @helenmccabe? #brafail#crazyeyes#10Hourspic.twitter杭州夜网m/hfrrWd7fOn— Sylvia Jeffreys (@SylviaJeffreys) August 25, 2015Great to join @mccabehelen for the #10Hours High Tea today. Thank you @womensweeklymag and #Loreal for inviting me to join this important campaign for ovarian cancer research.A photo posted by sylviajeffreys (@sylviajeffreys) on Aug 24, 2015 at 11:25pm PDT


Rolling Stone recently released its “greatest songwriters of all time”. What did they get right and how do you even measure a songwriter’s talent?
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Past episodesThe latest Star Wars news and controversy20 years later –The music of 1995‘I was wrong’ –pop culture confessionsMusic’s best rivalries –which side are you on?Movies that ruined your childhoodDead movie genresDescribe a movie you’ve never seen | Episode 50 extravaganzaHow to build a TV stationDoes product placement actually work?E3 predictions – what’s the future of gaming?Jurassic PodAre the best movies of 2015 still to come?The most 2000s thing of the 2000sCinema etiquette – is it OK to talk during movies?Mad Max: Fury Road visual effects artist talks new film and Justice League movieBest sports movies10 years later – The best albums of 2005Avengers: Age of Ultron spoilercastDigital vs physical media10 years later – The films of 2005Movies that should be TV showsWhen life imitates artEverything new rips off something oldKids don’t care about rockLiving in the future is awesome (and scary)Online piracy: Where do you draw the line?Super Oscars / Grammys / SNL 40 specialMovies to watch on Valentine’s Day (rom-coms vs chick flicks)Can plotholes ruin a movie or are we just nitpicking?Coming to terms with the reboot eratriple j Hottest 100 predictionsWhy we get excited for belated sequelsThe best of BondThe best of 201416 pop culture predictions for 2015Christmas songs that don’t suckWhat’s the best Christmas movie?The beginning of the endCall it a comebackBook versus movieHow to fix a movieThe internet: good or bad?Have we reached peak superhero?Summer music festival guideThe best trilogy everHow to pitch a movieThe most ’90s thing of the ’90sThe most underratedBest and worst fictional journalistsSix ways to ruin a songTo remake or not to remake?TV shows that should be moviesThe most overratedReality TV has ruined televisionThe Simpsons should’ve ended 15 years agoAll Australian movies are terrible


The ASX dove at the open after Wall Street’s wild finish but has since steadied. Photo: Brendon ThorneAustralian shares endured another volatile day of trading but ultimately ended the day higher, amid continued worries about the state of China’s economy and despite a poor Wall Street lead.
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The Dow Jones fell another 1.3 per cent on Tuesday night, despite climbing 2.8 per cent higher in intraday trading. The index has fallen 10.5 per cent over the past five sessions, marking its biggest five-day fall since August 2011.

That late sell-off in US equities spilled over on to the ASX at the start of Wednesday trade, and the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dived 1.6 per cent in the half-hour after opening, led by the big banks, only to rebound just as strongly as bargain hunters moved in.

Investors were also buoyed by an end to the rout in Chinese shares. Although the Shanghai Composite index was down 1.6 per cent by early afternoon trade, it was up 1.8 per cent by the time the Australian market closed, helping to finally drive the ASX into positive territory.

The ASX 200 finished 36 points, or 0.7 per cent, higher at 5172.8, while the All Ordinaries added 35 points to 5178.9.

Shares rallied “because people realise the market’s been trashed down”, Equity Trustees head of asset management Paul Kasian said. “If you compare dividend yields to the cash yield it’s bloody cheap. It’s never been as cheap as this. You have to go back to the worst days of the GFC.

“Even on a price-to-earnings basis, the market doesn’t look expensive.” Real buying interest

Wall Street’s finish overnight was “disturbing”, CMC chief markets analyst Ric Spooner said, “but we appear to have withstood the unsettlingly weak close from US markets last night. And I think that shows there’s some real buying interest in our market at the moment despite the ongoing volatility.

“People are sensing value and don’t want to miss this opportunity, even at the risk of getting in too early,” Mr Spooner said.

The reasons for the sharp bounce shortly after opening were unclear, he said.

“I’m not aware of any news event that’s triggered that, it’s just the way market tactics work. People like to see the open, they like to see how low it’s getting, get a sense of whether that selling will really continue and then you might find the bigger orders start coming into the market.”

Auscap Asset Management portfolio manager Tim Carleton described the market as “amazingly volatile” and “pretty oversold”.

“We’ve added to some positions selectively over the course of the move down in the market, but we’re not going crazy buying things,” he said.

All banks stocks were up: ANZ by 0.3 per cent to $28.07, Commonwealth Bank by 1.4 per cent to $76.13, National Australia Bank by 1 per cent to $31.39, and Westpac by 1.2 per cent to $31.28. Generous dividend 

BHP’s earnings report, released late on Tuesday, and the generous dividend in particular pushed the big miner’s shares up 2.6 per cent to $23.94, while Rio Tinto increased 0.9 per cent to $48.89. Telstra was 0.5 per cent higher to $5.86.

Sydney-based vitamins maker Blackmores became the second stock in recent times to break the century barrier, soaring 10.6 per cent to $100, after revealing on Tuesday that net profit after tax for 2014-15 had jumped 83 per cent to $46.6 million.

Among Wednesday’s earnings results, plastic packaging manufacturer Pact Group enjoyed a 17 per cent leap in net profit to $67 million, with total revenue for the 12 months to June 30 jumping 9.3 per cent to $1.25 billion. But However, shares were down 3.2 per cent to $4.25.

WorleyParsons was up 6.3 per cent to $8.13 despite warning its markets had “deteriorated” since May. The engineering group halved its final dividend and reported an annual net loss of $54.9 million because of project writedowns and dispute settlements.

Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Group Holdings has swung to a full-year net loss of $359.1 million, after its earnings fell $621.6 million, from its $262.5 million profit a year earlier. Shares lifted 0.2 per cent to $4.67.

Listed vet and pet group Greencross was the day’s worst performer, after news it had appointed its finance chief Martin Nicholas as its new chief executive after the resignation of boss Jeffrey David. Investors were caught off guard by the announcement, with Greencross’s shares slashed 13.5 per cent to $6.08.


Confident: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the World Economic Forum in January. Photo: RUBEN SPRICH”When the wind of change blows, some build walls while others build windmills.”
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In late January, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shared that proverb with global leaders in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. China was in windmill mode, committed to structural reform “no matter how difficult.” The “new normal” called for more moderate, consumer-led growth. The financial system would be modernised and the country aimed to shift away from its excessive reliance on debt-fueled, infrastructure-powered growth that had led to industrial overcapacity and an epic credit bubble. Better still, the makeover would be pulled off smoothly: “What I want to emphasise is that regional or systemic financial crisis will not happen in China, and the Chinese economy will not head for a hard landing,” Li said. Roughly seven months later, China finds itself at the epicentre of a global stock market rout that has vaporised $US8 trillion ($11.2 trillion) in wealth. Nobody is quite sure whether the world’s No. 2 economy is really growing at 7 per cent, as official figures suggest, or 6 per cent — or actually careening toward a hard landing.

Authorities are now quietly rolling out China’s biggest stimulus effort since the 2008 global financial crisis in an effort to put a floor under a weakening economy. Interest rates have been cut to record lows, banks are being encouraged to lend and new infrastructure spending is being rolled out. The confidence Li exuded in January has given way to policy zig-zags and mixed messages about the commitment of President Xi Jinping’s government to reform. The tale of how Chinese leaders have dealt with decelerating growth, debt pressures, a stock market crash and its sudden currency shift is instructive for investors, executives and policy makers puzzled by the trajectory of this all-important, $US10 trillion economy. It didn’t take long for economic trouble to surface. In April, Li met a group of local government officials in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin province that shares a border with North Korea. Li, 60, wanted to take the pulse of the region’s economy — and the news wasn’t encouraging. Known as China’s rust belt due to its state-dominated heavy industry and manufacturing sector, Jilin was among the worst performing economies in the country. It grew at 5.8 per cent during the year’s first three months compared with 7 per cent for the national economy. Neighbouring Heilongjiang province grew by 4.8 per cent and Liaoning by 1.9 per cent. Li’s response

But if the regional governments had hoped for a fiscal rescue mission from Beijing, they were set for disappointment. When one official said the wider region needed help from the central government, Li’s response flashed anger. “If you rely on the central government for everything, why on earth do we need local officials like you,” Li said, according to one of those present at the meeting who asked not to be identified. In a personal aside to what had become a tense meeting, Li noted that he once worked in Liaoning and considered himself a half “north east native,” and that he was “heartbroken” by the region’s economic performance. The pain being felt in places like Jilin was all part of a plan to rebalance China’s economy away from debt-fueled investment and exports to one spurred by consumers, services and innovation. Officials knew the economy would need some help and hoped interest-rate cuts and targeted public spending would do the trick rather than a massive stimulus program like the one rolled out in response to the 2008 crisis.


RBA governor Glenn Stevens and Treasurer Joe Hockey at the National Reform Summit on Wednesday. Photo: Louie Douvis Treasurer Joe Hockey, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and RBA governor Glenn Stevens and others at the National Reform Summit. Photo: Louie Douvis
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RBA governor Glenn Stevens, Martin Parkinson and Peter Harris, Productivity Commission chairman, at the National Reform Summit. Photo: Louie Douvis

Former Treasury boss sounds recession warningBill Shorten calls on business, community workers to work together on emissions

Ordinary Australians don’t relate to calls for reform emanating from politicians but they do want economic growth to create new jobs, grow prosperity, and provide long-term financial security for their families, Glenn Stevens has told policy makers in Sydney.

However the Reserve Bank governor acknowledged that focusing on growth was no populist option and would mean squaring up to the kind of hard political challenges that both the current government and the opposition have shown no appetite for.

The call for growth came as Mr Stevens repeated his concerns that the Australian economy had entered a long-term plateau, in which trend growth is significantly lower than Treasury and therefore government forecasts assume.

In arguably the most significant contribution to the National Reform Summit, which has brought together business, union, community, and policy leaders, from around the country, the central banker said for economic restructuring to be embraced by voters it needed to be framed in terms of its end-stream benefits for people.

To that end, he told the high-powered gathering that “the general public is much more likely to grasp, intuitively, a conversation about growth”.

“Growth in jobs, in incomes, in their standard of living, wealth and prosperity. Better allocative efficiency [productivity], if we could secure it, would doubtless add to growth. That growth is worth having.”

Productivity enhancement – generally regarded as doing more with less – was a recurrent theme from contributors at the day-long summit that was billed as an attempt to revive the much-vaunted policy and political consensus of economic summits of the the 1980s under then prime minister Bob Hawke.

But with Australian politics and public discourse now more polarised than any time in living memory, rivalling the spirit and outcomes of the 1980s affair was always a high bar to clear.

Mr Stevens said industrial relations reform could not be ignored forever.

“There is no avoiding the need to have the right labour market arrangements. The question is how to have suitable rules that offer basic fairness, but with minimum adverse effects on enterprise, employment, and the scope for free agents to come together in ways that mutually suit them – and that grow the economy. Whether we have that balance right is a question you might address,” he told delegates.

While the Abbott government continues to talk up the economy’s prospects, and the prospects of deficit reduction, Mr Stevens’ contribution provided a sobering reality check, sounding the alarm again about the limits of monetary policy – altering interest rates – to support confidence and spark stronger economic expansion.

“Growth is important and for a while now there has not been quite enough growth,” he said bluntly.

“Growth rates have mostly started with a ‘two’ for a while now, despite the lowest interest rates in our lifetimes, banks able and willing to lend, and measures of consumer and business confidence generally about average – notwithstanding what we keep reading in the media.

In a gentle rebuke to those advocating for a bigger slice of a shrinking pie for the disadvantaged, Mr Stevens said the best answer was to unshackle the economy “because distributional issues surely get easier with growth but much, much harder in its absence”.

“Reasonable people get this. They also know, intuitively, that the kind of growth we want won’t be delivered just by central bank adjustments to interest rates or short-term fiscal initiatives that bring forward demand from next year, only to have to give it back then. They are looking for more sustainable sources of growth. They want to see more genuine dynamism in the economy and to feel more confidence about their own future income.”

He called on business and think-tank policy developers to address themselves more directly at sustainable growth.

“How do we craft a credible, confidence-enhancing, narrative about growth? That’s actually what ‘reform’ is about: making things work better for higher income and wellbeing. If there are some things of substance that you could agree on, it would be a step forward.”

But if consensus was the goal, it seemed elusive with speakers from each side of the political spectrum largely arguing their standard positions.

Speaking on a session on fiscal policy, and what many delegates acknowledge is a “structural” deficit where high permanent spending cannot be paid for by permanent revenue, Australian Financial Review editor Michael Stutchbury called for greater ambition to address a deficit that will not be erased until 2020 at the earliest and probably not even then.

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Newcastle: home to the world’s biggest coal export port. Photo: Darren Pateman Newcastle’s council voted to curb its links to banks that back the fossil fuel industry. Photo: Simone De Peak
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‘Birthplace of Queensland’s coal calls an end to industry

Newcastle, home to the world’s biggest coal export port, has voted to curb its links to banks backing the fossil fuel industry in a move described by a dissenting councillor as taking the city “back to the Stone Age”.

Newcastle City Council on Tuesday voted 6-5 to alter its policies to steer its $270 million in funds into banks involved in “environmentally and socially responsible investments” and avoid those in “harmful activities”, such as greenhouse gas pollution.

Preferred activities included renewable energy, social housing, resource efficiency and recycling.

Declan Clausen, a Labor councillor who brought the motion to council, said the move would send a signal that it was time for the city to diversify away from coal.

“It’s foolish to believe Newcastle can ride off coal far into the future,” Cr Clausen said. Coal exports from Newcastle rose 6 per cent to a record 159 million tonnes in 2014, and comprised 97 per cent of the port’s volume, according to Port of Newcastle data.

The council stopped short of immediately dumping term deposits and other transaction activity with the big four banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac.

However, when deposits come up for renewal, council staff will be instructed to switch funds away from the large banks – all active funders of the coal industry – provided rates of return and the ratings of the alternative banks or credit agencies are similar.

Brad Luke, a Liberal councillor, described the move as “incredible”, and one that “would punish the biggest employer in the region” and the unions.

“It sends a signal that Newcastle Council does not support the creation of jobs in this area,” Cr Luke said. “It will take Newcastle back to the Stone Age.”

Therese Doyle, a Greens councillor, dismissed the criticism.

“It is coal that will send us back to the Stone Age,” Ms Doyle said. “It’s very clear that we need to get out of fossil fuels.”

The city had seen “very little social and economic benefit” from the coal industry and instead had to suffer from the health impacts of coal dust, noise and traffic disruption from coal trains.

“Coal production is increasingly automated,” Cr Doyle said. “The way of the future is away from coal.”

Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said it was up to the city council “to decide how they invest ratepayers’ funds, and to explain why, and the ratepayers of Newcastle will make their own judgement on whether it’s really the right way to go”.

Newcastle’s move was echoed by Ipswich City Council in Queensland. Despite coal being mined in the region since 1843, the council has called on the state government to block new mines and expansions as well as coal seam gas operations.

‘Robust’ policy

“Westpac has a robust Sustainability Risk Management Framework and all transactions are subject to an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credit risk assessment process as part of our normal credit risk procedure,” a spokesman for the bank said.

A spokesman for NAB, meanwhile, said: “NAB has a long and strong relationship with the Newcastle City Council and we regularly meet to discuss their banking requirements.”

A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Bank declined to comment and the ANZ is yet to respond.

Cr Clausen, who is a member of the Labor Environment Action Network, said unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union recognised that the coal industry in the Hunter Valley would likely shrink in the future.

“There will be far more jobs in sustainable industries than in the traditional fossil-fuel ones,” he said, noting the CFMEU had seconded Labor’s target for Australia to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 at last month’s ALP conference.

Tim Crakanthorp, another Labor councillor and also the member for Newcastle, welcomed the city’s decision”

“Newcastle is a diversified economy with increasing clean technology including a CSIRO energy centre and the Newcastle Institute of Energy Research,” Mr Crakanthorp said. “This only builds on this base.”

With Melissa Grant


Rusting away … the real last cab to Darwin in a yard in Darwin. Photo: Philip Nitschke Wants to shoot two films in Sydney … Hugh Jackman. Photo: Steven Siewert
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Thriller in Manila … Beast.

Real last cab is dying without dignity

As the film it inspired continues to perform strongly in cinemas, the real last cab to Darwin is slowly disappearing in an overgrown yard. Terminally ill Broken Hill cabbie Max Bell drove it to the Northern Territory capital in the 1990s — the journey that inspired Jeremy Sims’ film. Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke , who was with Bell when he died, has owned the car ever since. “He left it to me, ‘To help to get the euthanasia law working’,” he says. “It became the Exit campaign car for the next 10 years till it finally died in Darwin with a failed welch plug.” Dr Nitschke says it’s sad watching such an historic vehicle slowly decay on his Darwin block. “It still has the taxi meter in it,” he says, “along with the length of chain under the seat that Max told me he used when people decided they didn’t want to pay the fare”. After a strong third weekend that saw its release widen to 247 cinemas — it started on 221 — Last Cab To Darwin has taken $4.4 million so far. It will widen again to 265 cinemas this weekend as it heads towards topping $6 million. Why Hugh Jackman won’t be directing

Hugh Jackman grabbed headlines with the big announcement this week that he is touring the country with the arena show Broadway to Oz — Hugh Jackman Live in Concert. But he also spoke about the two movies he is hoping to shoot in Australia — his final Wolverine instalment and Michael Gracey’s P.T. Barnum bio-pic The Greatest Showman On Earth. While both are dependent on locations, Jackman hopes to shoot them largely in Sydney, just as he has with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine. Other than the filmmaking incentives to shoot in Australia, the attractions include being able to have a dip at Bondi before heading to Fox Studios. But while Jackman has moved into producing his movies, he has no interest in following fellow Les Miserables star Russell Crowe into directing. “I just ran into Joel Edgerton and he said he he’s had the time of his life [directing as well as starring in The Gift] and that made me think about it. But I just feel I’m a bit too indecisive.” Jackman says the greatest directors are very definite in their vision as they make 200 to 300 decisions a day. “I think I’d just be annoying to everybody and to myself,” he says. “‘Yeah, I like the red and the yellow dress’. ‘Well which one?’ ‘They’re both great.’ It would be that all day long.” Boxing pic gets Toronto debut

The directing debut for Australian brothers Tom and Sam McKeith, boxing drama-thriller Beast, has been selected for a world premiere in the Discovery section at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Australian-Filipino film centres on a young boxer (Chad McKinney) who is forced to go on the run through the streets of Manila after accidentally killing an opponent in a crooked fight. Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave) plays his American expat father. The brothers, both graduates of the Australian Film Television and Radio School, said they were thrilled at selection for what was the perfect platform for the film. “We hope people respond to the film’s rawness and enjoy the bold performance of our lead Chad McKinney, a boxer who we discovered training at a gym in Manila,” they said. The festival said the brothers had taken “elements of classic boxing films, added thriller twists, and refracted the resulting story through the lens of social realism” to create “a heart-pounding tale”. More French films in new festival

The newest addition to the film festival calender opens next week — Alliance Française Classic Film Festival, which features six films starring the legendary Catherine Deneuve. Alliance festival manager Patricia Noeppel-Detmold expects the festival to attract both regulars at the Alliance’s French Film Festival every March and newcomers wanting to catch some classics on the big screen. The festival, which features the likes of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour and Indochine, is at Event George Street and Cremorne Orpheum from Thursday to Sunday. UnIndian heads to Montreal

The comic romance unIndian, starring former cricketer Brett Lee and India’s Tannishtha Chatterjee, has been selected for a surprising world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival. Directed by Anupam Sharma, the film has also been picked up by Scandinavian international sales agent Yellow Affair, which describes it as “entertaining and genuinely funny” as “it touches cleverly on cultural differences”. Sharma describes the selection as “a pleasant surprise” for what was never intended to be a festival film.Unindian opens in Australian cinemas on October 15. Vacation opens on top

The National Lampoon reboot Vacation opened on top of the Australian box office on the weekend with $1.68 million. Boxing drama Southpaw had a better cinema average but came in second with $1.55 million. On a low-key weekend in cinemas, Jurassic World finally slipped out of the top 20 after 10 hugely popular weeks that saw it reach $52.8 million. It became the fourth highest-grossing movie in Australian cinemas, behind only Avatar, Titanic and The Avengers.

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Tasmanian Labor leader Bryan Green Photo: Paul Scambler/The ExaminerPressure is rising on the Liberal Party over its funds scandal, with Labor asking for a cover-up of a $48,000 debt in Tasmania to be investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission.
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The personal debt was incurred by disgraced former party director, Damien Mantach, while he held the job in Tasmania.

Mr Mantach’s debt was repaid in full in 2008 before he left, later to take on the same role in Victoria and allegedly embezzle $1.5 million.

Party figures have since traded accusations over the original debt, the re-engagement of Mr Mantach, and Liberal financial governance during his employment in Victoria.

Tasmanian Opposition Leader Bryan Green told the state parliament on Wednesday that Commonwealth electoral law required disclosure of “all money” received by a political party over a $10,000 threshold in 2008.

He held up a copy of the 2008 Liberal party return, and told Premier Will Hodgman: “Clearly this is not limited to donations. Will you and can you explain… why that amount was not declared as part of the party’s return?

“The fact that the money was not disclosed on the 2008 return can only mean one of two things, either the money wasn’t repaid … or that the Tasmanian Liberal Party is in breach of the Electoral Act,” Mr Green said.

He had written to the Australian Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, seeking an investigation into whether  the Tasmanian division of the Liberal party had lodged a false and misleading return.

Mr Hodgman called the questions spurious and said they should be handled by the party’s administrative division.

“As the leader of the opposition knows, those returns relate to donations…,” Mr Hodgman said. “Clearly the matters in question are not donations to the Liberal Party.”

The party’s current state president, Geoff Page, told Fairfax Media he was not sure what Mr Green was getting at.

“Our accounts are audited by professional people outside the party every year,” Mr Page said. “I’m very comfortable with that.”

Mr Green also disclosed in parliament that at the time Mr Mantach left, the honorary treasurer of the party was Launceston businessman Sam McQuestin, who is now the state director.

“It’s emerged Mr McQuestin is central to this matter, but (he) has been in hiding from the public,” Mr Green said.

He called for Mr Hodgman to require Mr McQuestin “to come out and tell the Tasmanian people why this matter was covered up.”

Mr McQuestin was not available for comment.


Newcastle,home tothe world’s biggest coal export port, hasvoted to curb its links to banks backing the fossil fuel industry in a move described by a dissenting councillor as taking the city “back to the Stone Age”.
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Newcastle City Council on Tuesday voted 6-5 to alter its policiesto steer its $270 million in funds into banks involved in “environmentally and socially responsible investments” and avoid those in “harmful activities”, such as greenhouse gas pollution.

Preferred activities included renewable energy, social housing,resource efficiency and recycling.

DeclanClausen, theLabor councillor who brought the motion to council, said the move would send a signal that it was time for the city to diversify away from coal.

“It’s foolish to believe Newcastle can ride off coal far into the future,” Cr Clausen said.

Coal exports from Newcastle rose 6 per cent to a record 159 million tonnes in 2014, and comprised 97 per cent of the port’s volume, according to Port of Newcastle data.

The council stopped short of immediately dumping term deposits and other transaction activity with the big four banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac.

However, when deposits come up for renewal, council staff will be instructed to switch funds away from the large banks – all active funders of the coal industry – provided rates of return and the ratings of the alternative banks or credit agencies are similar.

Liberal councillor Brad Lukedescribed the move as “incredible”, and one that “would punish the biggest employer in the region” and the unions.

“It sends a signal that Newcastle Council does not support the creation of jobs in this area,” Cr Luke said. “It will take Newcastle back to the Stone Age.”

Greens councillor Therese Doyledismissed the criticism.

“It is coal that will send us back to the Stone Age,”Ms Doyle said.”It’s very clear that we need to get out of fossil fuels.”

The city had seen “very little social and economic benefit” from the coal industry and instead had to suffer from the health impacts of coal dust, noise and traffic disruption from coal trains.

“Coal production is increasingly automated,” Cr Doyle said.

“The way of the future is away from coal.”

Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said it was up to the city council “to decide how they invest ratepayers’ funds, and to explain why, and the ratepayers of Newcastle will make their own judgement on whether it’s really the right way to go”.

Fairfax Media sought comments from the banks.

A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Bank said “we can’t really respond at this point”.

Cr Clausen, who is a member of the Labor Environment Action Network, said unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Unionrecognised that the coal industry in the Hunter Valley would likely shrink in the future.

“There will be far more jobs in sustainable industries than in the traditional fossil-fuel ones,” he said, noting the CFMEU had seconded Labor’s target for Australia to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 at last month’s ALP conference.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the swearing in ceremony of the inaugural Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvliegn with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last month. Photo: Andrew Meares The swearing in ceremony of the inaugural Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvliegn. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The price of a department’s integration? $52,000 per public servant

What’s in a name? If you’re the newly created Australian Border Force, the answer is about $10 million – splashed on military-style uniforms and thousands of signs at airports and detention centres to create a fresh, hardline image.

The uniform splurge follows recent reports by former detention centre workers that detainees at the Australian-run camp on Nauru have not been provided proper clothing, forcing parents to cut holes in their children’s ill-fitting shoes.

Australia’s newly named paramilitary border force began operating in July, triggering the 10th rebranding of the immigration bureaucracy since World War II.

The new name drew ridicule when flagged last year, described variously by critics as “hairy chested”, deliberately threatening and a “marketing disaster”.

Costings supplied to Fairfax Media shows the government spent $6.3 million kitting out 4500 ABF officials with new uniforms, insignia, name badges, buttons and safety helmets.

Veteran public servants were reportedly unhappy at being forced to wear the military-style uniform to work after a lifetime of civilian service.

However a department spokeswoman said the new agency and its law enforcement officers must be “properly attired and well equipped”.

“It is custom and practice that uniforms and equipment for law enforcement operatives be provided by their employer,” she said.

At a Senate hearing last month detention centre workers described as “horrendous” the clothing situation for detainees at the Nauru detention camp.

“Parents actually had to cut holes in their [children’s] sneakers because their feet were growing too much and their shoes were too small,” said former worker Samantha Betts.

“Children would often ask us to help fix their thongs, which we tried to do on several occasions … with bread ties and bits of string.”

Another case worker said a pair of pink hotpants had been provided to an elderly Burmese woman to wear as shorts.

The government spent a further $3.5 million on other rebranding activities such as new livery for 300 vehicles, including boats, helicopters and other aircraft.

New signs were erected at 11 international airports and more than 700 signs were required for seaports, depots, offices and immigration detention facilities.

About 8000 “Border Watch” signs replaced the previous “Customs Watch” signs. Thousands of vessel port and date stamps were also replaced.

A spokeswoman said the money was sourced from the department’s budget allocations and came at “no extra expense to taxpayers”.

The government has said the creation of the ABF, which consolidated customs and immigration border operations, would save hundreds of millions of dollars to be reinvested into the super-charged agency.

Some department insiders were said to be unhappy at the “militarisation” of the new regime. The department reportedly faces the public service’s greatest executive brain drain since the 1980s after a quarter of its upper ranks were either shown the door or left after the merger.

Despite the millions of dollars being spent on the ABF, its employees are facing cuts to pay and entitlements, triggering an internal revolt.

Since 1945 the immigration bureaucracy has been known by various names including the Department of Labour and Immigration, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Customs functions have also been rebranded, including in 2009 when the former Labor government dispensed with the Australian Customs Service, renaming it the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

At the time, the Coalition questioned the cost of rebranding, and asked why the name change was needed when the government could have simply absorbed border control functions into the Customs Service.

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Peter FitzSimons says it is ‘simply not fair’ that no Australian can become the nation’s head of state. Photo: Louise Kennerley  Five things that need to happen before Australia becomes a republic
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The ACT’s Katy Gallagher will lead a national push for an Australian republic.

She will be co-convenor of a new parliamentary group, with federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, as part of an ambitious 10-year plan for constitutional change.

The group was announced at the National Press Club on Wednesday by Peter FitzSimons, chairman of the Australian Republican Movement and a Fairfax Media columnist.

The republican movement wants a national plebiscite on an Australian head of state by 2020, followed by a referendum proposing a specific republican model by 2025.

Should a plebiscite on a republic be held within that time frame, it could be the fifth time in as many years Australians were asked to go to the polls. Votes on marriage equality and constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, as well as two federal elections, are also expected.

In 1999, a referendum on a move to a republic was defeated 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The ACT was the only jurisdiction to vote in favour of a republic.

Senator Gallagher, a former ACT chief minister, said there was acceptance of the lessons learnt from 1999, such as about divisions in the “yes” campaign.

“I think there’s also understanding now there needs to be stages about the way you progress to a referendum,” she said.

“It’s a long-term discussion for a long-term change.

“Politicians have a role to play but, ultimately, this is something the Australian community has to get behind; it has to be a much broader discussion.

“If we are looking at a five- to 10-year campaign, hopefully it is beyond the reign of Tony Abbott.”

Mr FitzSimons said support for an Australian republic was strengthening again, with 47 per cent of voters polled by Essential Media Research in favour of replacing the British monarch with an Australian head of state.

“It’s time for us to be entirely self-governing,” he said.

“We propose it starts with a simple question to be put before the Australian people some time in the next five years: do you support replacing the British monarchy with an Australian citizen as the Australian head of state?” he said.

“Bingo, simple as that. We reckon the ‘yes’ vote will look like Phar Lap at Flemington, like Bradman at Lord’s – well ahead of the field and looking good.”

Mr FitzSimons said it was essential republicans came together and agreed on a model before a referendum, rather than face a repeat of the 1999 vote, when arguments between republicans about different models contributed to the defeat of the “yes” case.

He said he favoured a minimalist model, with the head of state, who would still be called the governor-general, chosen by a two-thirds majority of Parliament.

“It is the most likely to succeed, as it addresses the foremost concern of the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it crowd. Essentially, we are not fixing it. We would be snipping one unsightly apron string,” Mr FitzSimons said.

The Australian flag would not be part of the debate.

Mr FitzSimons warned Australia would only make the change if Mr Abbott, a strong supporter of the constitutional monarchy, was no longer Prime Minister: “The reality of this is we won’t get this over the line without bipartisan support.”

A spokesman for Mr Hockey said he “has long advocated his views on this issue”.

“They are a matter of public record and those views haven’t changed.”

Earlier this year, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten recommitted Labor to pursuing an Australian republic.