March, 2019

Abbott likens PM to Hanson in 457 attack

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Labor is trying to divide the nation over 457 visas. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Tony Abbott on Pauline Hanson… She “set out to divide this country”. Photo: Simone De Peak
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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has lectured Prime Minister Julia Gillard on what ”true love for this country” means, labelling her crackdown on skilled foreign workers as ”false patriotism”.

While accusing Ms Gillard of using class, gender, and now country of birth, to score political points he made a veiled reference to former senator Pauline Hanson who 15 years ago ”set out to divide this country”.

”We saw a member of this parliament set out to make perfectly decent Australians feel like strangers in their own country,” he said.

Mr Abbott said he never thought he would see the day when it was not just an independent member of parliament but the Prime Minister setting out to deliberately divide Australian from Australian to serve a political purpose.

”It is an embarrassment,” he said.

The rousing speech against the government’s tough new measures to tackle 457 visa abuse came as key independents crucial to the bill’s fate refused to say how they would vote.

NSW MP Rob Oakeshott confirmed on Thursday that he would oppose the measures – including rules forcing companies to prove they first tried to hire local workers – on the grounds current penalties for misuse were adequate.

The government needs to win over at least five of the seven crossbenchers to secure the passage of the controversial bill before the election.

But independent Tony Windsor said on Thursday that he was still working out how he would vote and former Liberal Peter Slipper also refused to declare his hand.

If the pair vote with Mr Oakeshott and the Coalition against the bill, it will fail.

In parliamentary debate on Thursday, Mr Abbott said he believed all MPs loved their nation ”but true love for this country is expressed by trying to unite us, not by setting out to divide us”.

”What this bill is, it’s false patriotism from a failing government and that’s why it should not be proceeded with,” he said.

Mr Abbott accused the government of demonising foreign workers, before he tried to turn the focus back onto asylum seeker boat arrivals by denouncing the ”border protection disaster” and ”illegal arrivals by boat”.

Unions have strongly backed the measures, which include new powers for Fair Work inspectors and new rules for employers to show they have tried to hire suitable local workers, for example by placing job ads.

But Mr Abbott said the government’s bill was troubling because it implied people who came to Australia to work and pay taxes were stealing local jobs.

”This is a contemptible and false suggestion,” he said.

”The people who came to this country to work and pay taxes from day one are not stealing our jobs; they are building our nation.”

The crackdown on 457 visa rorts has been a central part of the Gillard government’s election-year agenda and an attempt to reconnect with Labor’s working class base.

Business groups and the opposition accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of xenophobia after she campaigned in western Sydney campaign in March with a vow to ”stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue”.

Independent MP Craig Thomson, who had already flagged his support, said the Coalition’s record on asylum seekers meant the party’s claims about foreign workers were ”extraordinary”.

”We now have an opposition claiming the government is demonising foreign workers through the 457 visas process. I’m speechless,” said Mr Thomson, a former Labor MP.

”Here they are now, the friend of foreign workers.”

Mr Thomson said Australian workers should be given the benefit of the doubt.

”If that means a business has to go out and market test to see if there’s someone who can do the job, well terrific,” he said.

But Mr Oakeshott said businesses hiring people under the skilled foreign worker program already signed forms obligating them not to abuse the scheme.

Existing laws also included penalties for misuse including barring sponsors from hiring workers on 457 visas and thousands of dollars in fines.

Mr Oakeshott said when the government began its tough-talking rhetoric on the 457 visa program earlier this year, he asked for evidence of widespread rorting.

But he said figures showing that the uptake in 457 visas in certain industries was higher than employment growth was not evidence of broad misuse but rather lack of enforcement.

Mr Oakeshott questioned whether existing agencies were under-resourced.

”The [existing] powers are actually pretty good and pretty strong. What’s the problem with using them?” Mr Oakeshott said.

Mr Windsor told ABC TV on Thursday he still had not decided how he would vote and he could go either way following further talks with the government. Mr Slipper declined to comment.

Labor MP Janelle Saffin hit back at Coalition claims the labour market testing rules would introduce unnecessary red tape for business.

”It can never be a burden to protect Australian jobs. I just can’t understand how that can be a burden,” she said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Peters appeals collar bomb sentence over psychological state

The convicted hoax collar bomber, Paul Peters, is set to claim in court that his minimum 10-year jail sentence should be reduced because the judge failed to properly take his mental condition into account, a court has heard.
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Peters was sentenced in November last year over the now infamous collar bomb attack, in which he walked into the $12 million Mosman home of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver and tied a black metal box around her neck with a bike chain.

Attached was an extortion note claiming the box contained sophisticated plastic explosives and threatening Ms Pulver and her family with a “tragically avoidable explosion” if they failed to send “funds” to a supplied email address.

It took 10 hours for police to be certain the device was fake, by which time Ms Pulver had been traumatised.

During his sentencing hearings last year, Peters claimed that he was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time of the attack brought on by severe bipolar disorder and alcoholism, which he had been suffering from for a number of years.

But the sentencing judge largely rejected the claim that Peters was affected by a disturbed state of mind and had ultimately wanted to be caught.

Instead, he found Peters was seeking financial gain through a carefully planned extortion attempt and that he was aware of the terror he was inflicting.

During a brief hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Peters’ solicitor, Kathy Crittenden, confirmed that Peters was appealing the severity of his 10-year sentence.

She said there were seven grounds of appeal and that “most relate to the assessment of the applicants’ psychological state”.

The solicitor representing the Crown said that Peters had taken issue with “the findings made by the judge regarding mental health condition and various assessments that have been made”.

The appeal will be heard during a single day hearing in the Court of Criminal Appeal on October 28.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Raiders remain focused, with faith in Ferguson

Raiders centre Jarrod Croker said suspended teammate Blake Ferguson had the support of the squad and his Origin dumping would not be a distraction ahead of Saturday’s NRL match against the Wests Tigers.
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Croker said he was also aiming to nurse his injured knee through the next three games until Canberra’s next bye – possibly with injections – as the Raiders search to sign backline re-enforcements prior to the June 30 registration deadline.

The Raiders have been talking behind the scenes with backline players at rival NRL clubs, including discussions with Penrith’s Travis Robinson, twin brother of Raiders fullback Reece Robinson.

It’s understood the Raiders have made an offer to Robinson, but the Raiders have not been able to persuade any of their NRL rivals to release players mid-season.

The Raiders have also assisted the switch of Jordan Rapana from rugby union back to rugby league, the former Gold Coast Titans winger debuting in the local Canberra Raiders Cup competition last weekend. But his potential transition to NRL is still considered a longer term project.

Ferguson’s NRL-imposed suspension of a minimum four weeks has put extra pressure on Canberra’s already depleted backline.

Winger Edrick Lee is out for up to three months with a broken arm. Canberra junior Sami Sauiluma will debut on the wing on Saturday.

Ferguson won’t be available for the Raiders until at least the round 19 match against the Parramatta Eels, pending the outcome of his indecent assault charge. The NRL’s integrity unit must also be satisfied with his progress in alcohol counselling.

Croker said the Raiders players supported the club’s decision not to sack Ferguson and said the off-field distractions would not be an excuse against the Tigers on Saturday.

‘‘Blake’s obviously a teammate and a good mate as well, so I hope the club sticks by him,’’ Croker said.

‘‘We [the players] haven’t really sat down and talked about it all. What the NRL does and the Raiders does is up to them, we just stand by that.

‘‘I don’t think it’ll be too much of a distraction for us …. we’ll get on with the job.’’

Asked if Ferguson had let down  his teammates by drinking in Cronulla on the eve of Origin camp and and getting suspended, Croker said: ‘‘Blake’s 23-years-old, he can make his decisions. I’m just more disappointed by the fact he won’t be out there for the Blues next week.’’

Croker limped off early for the second straight match in last weekend’s win over Penrith. His knee has been an ongoing concern all year.

Despite missing training earlier in the week, Croker said he was aiming to play on and manage the injury.

‘‘I had a little bit of a scare there … but I’m right to go,’’ Croker declared, saying he could have played on if required.

‘‘Hopefully it gets better with time. We had the bye week [round 12] and it really recovered well then, and we’ve got another bye coming up [round 18]. Whether we look into injections or anything just to tighten it up. It’s not a massive niggling injury, but it’s a bit frustrating. I’m just trying to keep it right and manage it.’’

Croker played down talk of a backline crisis.

‘‘We’ve still got a fair backline … we’re going to have plenty of energy and enthusiasm so I don’t think we’ll be lacking anything out wide.’’

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Win a two-bedroom stay for the Ekka

Win two nights at any Oaks Hotel in Brisbane during the Ekka. This is the two-bedroom apartment at Oaks Aurora. Win two nights at any Oaks Hotel in Brisbane during the Ekka. This is the view from Oaks 212 Margaret.
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Brisbane Times continues to share the love when it comes to exploring the best escapes in Queensland – this time in conjunction with Oaks Hotels and Resorts.

The Ekka is from August 8-17, and we’ve got a two-night stay to giveaway in a two-bedroom apartment during that time.

Even better news is that it’s an apartment of the winner’s choice – at any one of seven participating Oaks Hotels and Resorts in Brisbane – Oaks Aurora, Oaks 212 Margaret, Oaks Festival Towers, Oaks Lexicon, Oaks Felix or Oaks Charlotte Towers.

The prize includes free parking.

For your chance to win, simply tell us the date of the first day of this year’s Ekka.Send your entry complete with details (name, age, mailing address and contact numbers) to [email protected]上海夜生活m.au with “OAKS” in the subject line.  Please note, entries with the incorrect subject line will be invalid.

The competition closes June 25, 2013 and terms and conditions apply. Hotel bookings are subject to availability.

The giveaway is in conjunction with an Ekka early  bird rate for families, friends and couples, starting at $139 per room per night, and on sale until June 24.

A city hotel allows visitors the luxury of forgetting the stress of crowded highways at the end of a bumper day; able to spread out the showbags, have a warm shower and indulge in some well-earned respite.

In the meantime, read Shane Brady’s review of Oaks Mon Komo at Redcliffe.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

NRL match fixing case: Trio cleared by magistrate

Cleared: John Elias at Downing Centre Court in 2011. Photo: Nick Moir Cleared: Brad Murray leaves court earlier this year. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Cleared: Jai Ayoub, in action for Randwick Firsts. Photo: Adam Hollingworth

The case against three men accused of being key players in an NRL betting scandal has been thrown out, with a magistrate finding there is not enough evidence to prove allegations they acted deceptively in placing bets.

Rugby league identity John Elias, former Parramatta player Brad Murray, and Jai Ayoub – the son of Murray’s manager Sam Ayoub – were accused of being involved in a betting plunge on North Queensland to open the scoring by a penalty kick in their match against the Canterbury Bulldogs in August 2010.

All three were charged with attempting to dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

In the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday, magistrate Greg Grogin granted the men a permanent stay of proceedings.

“Based on the evidence before me … I find that the prosecution would not be in the position to prove the matter of deception beyond reasonable doubt.”

The prosecution case against Mr Elias was that he dishonestly structured a series of cash bets with TAB betting agencies at Rozelle and Haberfield in the total amount of $5100 in the expectation of securing winnings in the amount of $98,455.

Mr Murray was accused of attempting to dishonestly obtain $16,820 by deception from Tabcorp, while Mr Ayoub was accused of attempting to dishonesty obtain thousands of dollars by deception from Luxbet.

The prosecution case was that Bulldogs player Ryan Tandy manipulated the game by giving away a penalty to the Cowboys early in the game.

Tandy is the only person in Australian history to be convicted of match fixing. He avoided prison but was fined $4000 for attempting to gain financial advantage by deception.

The betting plunge failed when Cowboys player Anthony Watts decided to take a tap rather than attempt a penalty goal, the court was told.

Legal counsel for the men had argued that for deception to be found, the prosecution must prove they also participated in fixing the match.

“There is a lack of proximity or causal link between the on-field activity and the placing of the exotic bet,” Mr Grogin said.

A charge against Sam Ayoub was dropped on similar grounds last year, and a charge against eastern suburbs real estate agent Greg Tait was also dismissed.

The matter will return to court on September 20 for a costs hearing.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.