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   Dec 12

Noel Pearson’s model for recognition wins support

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson became convinced that a proposal for a ban on racial discrimination in the constitution was unlikely to succeed. Photo: Marian FaaIndigenous ns have strongly backed  Noel Pearson’s call for a new Indigenous body recognised by the constitution to have a voice to the national Parliament.

Aborigines from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western met last weekend and emphatically backed the proposal to give them greater say in government decision-making on matters that affect them and their rights.

“There was an agreed view that the body must not be appointed or handpicked by government,” a report on the meeting by the Referendum Council said.

The support came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepared to present an annual report to Parliament on Tuesday showing mixed success in closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

Mr Turnbull is expected to respond to the lack of progress by promising far more thorough evaluation of programs aimed at tackling disadvantage.

He will also detail plans to “refresh” the seven targets set in 2008 to close the gap on life expectancy, health, education and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ns and respond to calls for targets covering mental health and incarceration rates.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who delivered the apology to Indigenous ns, has backed a justice target, as well as higher education targets.

In a speech to mark the ninth anniversary of the apology on Monday, Mr Rudd also called for a sustained focus on prevention and early intervention to respond to the “emergence of what some are calling a second stolen generation”.

“Our growing challenges with child removal today are of a different order of magnitude entirely to what we saw over more than three-quarters of a century with the brutality of the Stolen Generations,” he said.

The Prime Minister has moved to re-set the government’s relationship with Indigenous by recasting the Indigenous Advisory Council set up by Tony Abbott.

Mr Turnbull included respected leaders Chris Sarra and Andrea Mason in six new appointments to the council and gave the new group a mandate to collaborate with Indigenous leaders across the country and more direct links to decision-makers across government.

But the second of 12 Indigenous-designed and run dialogues saw emphatic support for the body proposed by Mr Pearson when the Cape York leader became convinced that a proposal for a ban on racial discrimination in the constitution was unlikely to succeed.

The Referendum Council said the Broome Dialogue was attended by a diverse cross-section of the community based on age, gender, included traditional owners and discussed all the options for recognition.  “Those who supported acknowledgement (recognition) did so on the condition it was combined with more substantive reforms, such as the Indigenous voice to Parliament,” the statement said.

“This is not an exercise in tidying up the past. We are interested in shaping our future,” Referendum Council Co-Chair Pat Anderson said.

The dialogues will culminate in a National Indigenous Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May, where delegates will finalise the proposal the council will put to Mr Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

With Adam Gartrell

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   Dec 12

Andrew Robb privately pushed minister Kelly O’Dwyer for bank royal commission ‘to say we have done it’

Former trade minister Andrew Robb. Photo: Andrew Meares Minister Kelly O’Dwyer opposed any banking inquiry, according to sources. Photo: Andrew Meares

Former Liberal minister Andrew Robb pressed the Turnbull government to hold a royal commission into the banks but one with a narrower scope to stymie the Labor Party’s assault on the major banks, cabinet sources say.

A source familiar with the event has confirmed details reported by the Financial Review, saying that Mr Robb, a former trade minster in the Turnbull and Abbott governments, used a private gathering convened by the cabinet minister Kelly O’Dwyer last week to push for an inquiry so that it might close the issue.

“He said Labor wouldn’t give up on their political demands and maybe we should consider holding a narrow one [inquiry]  to say we have done it,” the source told Fairfax Media.

But Ms O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, pushed back according to sources, questioning whether the government, which is elected to govern in the national interest, would be expected to cave into all the “wild demands” oppositions propose.

She said the government would always get wild demands from oppositions and minor parties to do all sorts of things that they were pushing because it was in their political interest but said the Coalition was in government and had to govern for the national interest, sources who attended the meeting said.

The minister further advocated the government’s position – to create a one stop shop for consumer complaints – which will provide speedy access to justice, binding resolutions and access to compensation where appropriate.

She warned that a royal commission would threaten ‘s AA credit rating and damage the reputations of the banks, according to the Financial Review

Mr Robb did not press the issue.

The move comes as the Greens hold negotiations with a Senate cross-party group on Tuesday about a plan for a commission of inquiry into the banking sector, put forward by treasury and consumer affairs spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson.

Opposition financial services spokeswoman Katy Gallagher said members of the government were pushing back on the “blind refusal” of the government to establish a royal commission.

“More and more we’re seeing people come out, including on the government benches and now a senior former minister, to try to talk sense into this government about a banking royal commission,” Senator Gallagher said.

“We know that there are many on the government side who are wanting to see a thorough, transparent inquiry into the banks, and I think we’re all on the same page and we want a strong, profitable and well-led banking sector in .”

Labor would consider the Greens plan, she said, but issues about how it would be funded remain. It could also win support of Queensland Liberal-National backbencher George Chistensen.

The Greens’ draft legislation would see an inquiry report back to Parliament instead of the the government.

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   Dec 12

Hunter Morning NewsTuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE: Some people regard Valentine’s Day a crass exercise in commercialism, others enjoy it as an excuse to go cross-eyed at one another. Morning Hunter

It is themost lovey-doveyday of the year –Valentine’s Day!

While many may celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, wine and chocolate, local mother Kerryn “Kez” Tippett hopes the Hunter willembrace a nobleopportunity for a public display of affection.

Ms Tippett is encouraging people to buy and affixa love-heart shaped padlockto a“giant”metal heart at 48 Watt Street, Newcastle,on Tuesday in a bid to raise money for theJohn Hunter Children’s Hospital.

The Hunter Hearts campaign, which has so far raised more than $9,000, was inspired by the tragic loss ofMs Tippett’s daughter, internet sensationMaddie Tippett. Read the full story.

Picture: Simone De Peak

►Spicers Vineyards Estatehas collected thetitle of ’s most romantic hotel for the second year in a row.

The Hunter Valley accommodation provider won theTripAdvisorhotel traveller’s choice award for most romantic hotel in , just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The award was based on the visitor reviews, which Spicers Vineyards Estate general manager Clare Bremerkamp said made itextra special.

“It’s really lovely,” Mrs Bremerkamp said. “The whole team is really proud.” Read on.

ROMANTIC: Spicers Vineyards Estate general manager Clare Bremerkamp. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Leave a message for your Valentine and go in the draw to win1.5 hours of pampering for two people at Spicers spa valued at $370. Information here.

► Some are not able to be together on the most romantic day of the year.But, even though Bryson Griffiths andAlannah Miles are kilometres apart, she is still on his mind more than ever.

Mr Griffithsjoined the defence force five months ago, which meant he would be away from home, and his fiancée,on February 14.

They are recently engaged, but Mr Griffiths still clearly remembers the first time he met her. Read their story.

TOGETHER WHEN APART: Could Alannah Miles and Bryson Griffiths be Muswellbrook’s sweetest couple?

State of the nationNeed anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.

►Community groups will boycott a hearing into one of the state’s most controversial open cut coal mine projects after slamming the NSW Government-ordered process as “fake consultation” and “a ridiculous sham”.

More than 40 groups will boycott an expected NSW Planning Assessment Commission hearing into Korean energy giant KEPCO’s new open cut coal mine proposal at Bylong, after accusing the government of referring it to the PAC to deny the community the right to appeal to the NSW Land and Environment Court. Read on.

STYLISH: An unconventional board meeting. Picture: Supplied

►Destination Port Stephens will make a new pitch forbusiness and incentive tourism at Melbourne, in just under a fortnight’s time.

Nearly 5000 industry leaders will attend the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) from February 20 to 22 where Destination Port Stephens will launch its two business event guides.

Thebranding–Unconventional Port Stephens–utilises a clever play on words, with business conventions being high on the tourism hit list. Take a look.

►Leadville, NSW:Family, friends and total strangers are emptying their pocketsto help a young family who have been left gutted by weekend fires. More here.

►Cootamundra, NSW: Cootamundraproducers have answered the call with hundreds of bales of hay heading to Central West regions devastated by bushfires over the weekend.Paul Manwaring and Andrew Gloverare currently coordinating a fodder run to leave Cootamundra on Saturday morning bound for the small town of Coolah. More here.

► Maitland, NSW: Young Maitland drivers are eligible to trial four new smart phone applications expected to replace log books for L-plate drivers in the near future.The state government chose Maitland, along with Sydney suburb Castle Hill, to host the trial andthey are looking for 100 L-platers to test the new technology. More here.

► Cessnock, NSW:Parishioners at Cessnock Baptist Church have been left saddened, but not defeated after their beloved church was engulfed by flames on Sunday evening. More here.

►Scone, NSW: Early this morning, on a property west of Scone, a wild dog that has eluded capture for six years all the while killing and maiming sheep was shot dead.Once the news of trapper Jonathan Randle’s success in destroying the legendary dog was passed onto landholder Norm Black, “Sofia Hill”,he cried tears of joy. More here.

►Strathfieldsaye, Victoria: CFA crews were called to a structure fire at a property in Saxby Drive, Strathfieldsaye, shortly at 6pm.A CFA spokesman said a double garage was “well alight” by the time firefighters from the Bendigo, Mandurang and Strathfieldsaye stations arrived. More here.

►Rushworth, Vic: Police have recovered the body of a young man believed to have drowned near Rushworth at the weekend.The body of the21-year-old Rushworth manwas found by police divers on the western side of the weir at Waranga Basin at 4.10pm, more than 48 hours after he went missing while swimming with friends on Saturday afternoon. More here.

► Ballarat, Vic:A 14-year-old boy who racked up a half a million dollar crime spree across Ballarat has been released from custody after receiving a stern talking to from a magistrate.The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was told his ice-fuelled crime spree“exhibited truly shocking offending”. More here.

► Mandurah, WA: The man accused of murdering teenager Hayley Dodd appeared in Western ’s Supreme Court on Monday, where he again pleaded not guilty to the crime.More here.

National news► A combination of massive resources, unprecedented preparedness and good luck spared much of NSWfrom catastrophic bushfires over the weekend. More here.

► A “network of sexual perpetrators” used an Anglican church youth group to prey on young boys over a period of decades from the 1970s to the 1990s with church leaders failing to report allegations, a royal commission has found. More here.

► Sydney is facing a once-in-a-generation enrolment surge, a NSW Upper House inquiry into inner-city schools has heard, as the NSW Department of Education struggles to keep up with demand. More here.

► Islamic State has taken aim at several n religious scholars in its latest propaganda video, calling on followers to kill the sheikhs because they discourage violence. More here.

National weather radarInternational news►Jakarta:Animal welfare activists are calling for a ban on transporting dolphins by plane after filming footage that showed them being boxed into crates in a harness to take part in a travelling circus in Indonesia. More here.

► Washington:Does the US have a traitor as its national security adviser?US President Donald Trump’s pick of a wild conspiracy theorist as his national security adviser was always a time bomb, but who’d have thought that retired general Michael Flynn’s credentials would become the stuff of national debate in the same news cycle asNorth Korea’s seeming provocation of the new administrationwith another missile test? More here. More here.

On this day1779 –James Cookis killed byNative HawaiiansnearKealakekuaon theIsland of Hawaii.

1849– In New York City,James Knox Polkbecomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.

1876–Alexander Graham Bellapplies for apatentfor the telephone, as doesElisha Gray.

1929–Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of themgangsterrivals ofAl Capone’s gang, are murdered inChicago.

1990 – TheVoyager 1spacecraft takes the photograph of planet Earth later become famous asPale Blue Dot.

2005 –YouTubeis launched by a group of college students, eventually becoming the largestvideo sharingwebsite in the world and a main source forviral videos.

The faces of :John ‘the swagman’ CadoretONCE a jolly swagman worked at a Melbourne bank, tired of his office job, camped behind a desk.

So he packed up his things and he headed for the open road, 40 years on and he is yet to take a rest.

Born in 1954 in the Western Victorian town of Minyip, John Cadoret was in his early twenties when he decided to leave his shared flat and party life behind, simply because he wanted to.

Read more here.

   Dec 12

Turnbull government appoints Bulent Hass Dellal as new SBS chair

The Turnbull government will on Tuesday end a long period of uncertainty at the top of broadcaster SBS by announcing multicultural affairs adviser Bulent Hass Dellal as its new chair.

Dr Dellal, the director of the n Multicultural Foundation, has been an SBS board member since 2010 and previously served as deputy chair.

He has been acting chair for the past year since the sudden departure of controversial chair Nihal Gupta, a prominent Liberal Party donor who lasted just 16 months in the role.

Dr Dellal also served as acting chair when the Abbott government declined to reappoint investment banker Joseph Skrzynski to a second term.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Dr Dellal rejected calls by former ABC managing director Mark Scott for the two organisations to merge. Mr Scott said SBS was becoming less distinctive and combining the two broadcasters would save costs.

Dr Dellal said the surging popularity of anti-immigration parties such as One Nation only makes a standalone multicultural broadcaster more important than ever.

“Whether it is about immigration or multiculturalism or terrorism in the Middle East, we have a vital role to play to keep ns informed,” he said.

“SBS helps to settle new migrant communities, it promotes diversity of thought and the benefits of multiculturalism, it helps create social cohesion.

“Simply being ethnically diverse doesn’t make you a successful multicultural nation – you need services like SBS to make it work.”

Dr Dellal said his own parents and their friends, who migrated from Cyprus to in the 1940s, had benefited from SBS’s foreign language programming.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said Dr Dellal will serve for a term of just over three years.

Senator Fifield said Dr Dellal’s extensive experience in community relations, business, police relations, second language development and the arts made him perfectly suited to the role.

The government was acting on the advice of its independent nomination panel which selected Dr Dellal for the role.

The panel is currently considering candidates for the next chair of the ABC.

A former music and drama teacher, Dr Dellal was awarded the Medal of the Order of in 1997 for service to multicultural organisations, the arts and the community.

   Dec 12

Q&A recap: Jacqui Lambie gives two bob watches a bad name

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie was involved in a heated exchange with?Yassmin Abdel-Magied on Q&A on Monday night. Photo: ABC Jacqui Lambie on Q&A.

Jacqui Lambie goes on the attack on Q&A.

Q&A had one of its most bracing confrontations on Monday night – Jacqui Lambie in an hour-long brawl with her natural urge to leap from the chair and sing We Don’t Need Another Hero.

There was also a pretty willing blue between the senator from Tasmania and a fellow panellist whose mistake was to publicly explore the popular theory that Jacqui Lambie gives two-bob watches a bad name.

If you missed it, well, poke about a bit in the dark recesses of the internet and you’re sure to find it posted somewhere. It was all about – you’ll never guess! – Muslims and associated feelings that ensure we will spend the rest of our lives watching Senator Lambie complete her Theological studies live on Q&A. But we’ll get to the guts of the shouting match between Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied, her exasperated foe, later

First, to the reminder the show delivered of what an exciting time it is to be a conservative politician in . The vital question before us: who will be our answer to Donald Trump?

The nation waits, on tenterhooks. Will it be Cory Bernardi, who has recently shown a Trump-like verve for blowing up his own party and quite enjoying it? Or maybe Pauline Hanson, who would most dearly love to no longer be ‘s answer to questions on Family Feud about “things that wake you up screaming in the middle of the night.”

And then there is Lambie, who returned to the Q&A panel to stake her claim.

Until now, Lambie has been the answer mostly to the prayers of people who speak almost entirely in vowel sounds but she has other strings to her boaoaew. And while we can’t be certain exactly what was going on with the senator from Tasmania, it was hard not to conclude she was advertising herself as the answer to problems with the electricity grid. Leading by example, Lambie appeared to have come equipped with her own power supply – and ever the practical soul, she would turn it up and down as required by circumstances. For brief moments she would stare intently ahead as if trying to work out a door handle, and at others she would be leaping about in her seat loathing everyone and everything in sight with an enthusiasm that suggested she had been freshly injected with some of the nation’s finest kilowatts.

“A nationalist, they call me,” she told host Tony Jones at one point. “Love my country. No doubt about that.”

Bless her. Lambie loves saying things like this, and doing it with the confidence that she has said something profound, while also certain she has delivered a smackdown to all those non-nationalists who don’t love their country. No doubt about that. Remind you of anyone? Let’s not  draw direct comparisons with the Orange One in Washington; let’s rather imagine Lambie was auditioning to play Cher in an RSL tribute act – one could safely say she knows all the words to If I Could Turn Back Time.

It’s hard to judge on one performance, but the viewer at home certainly sensed an extra edge and noise and nastiness as Lambie unveiled her repertoire – and that’s saying something given she already had a reputation for carrying on like a blender with the lid off. If she wasn’t auditioning, she was doing a good job of showing other people how to go about it. She’d point, she’d wave, she’d shout, she’d swivel, she’d get her Fs mixed up with her THs – but she would never be less than thorthfright in her opinions.

Which brings us to that nasty confrontation with Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

Its began with Jones asking of Lambie: “Did you say to the advocate in Tasmania that we should follow Donald Trump’s excel by deporting all Muslims who support Sharia Law.”

Lambie: “Yep, that’s correct. Anybody who supports Sharia Law should be deported.”

And then we were off –  Abdel-Magied asking of Lambie “Do you know what it is?”, Lambie saying she did, Abdel-Magied pushing back in defence of her faith, until it ended at high volume and cross-purposes, fingers being jabbed on the desk and in the air.

Ambitiously, Abdel-Magied said: “The fact is, Jacqui…”

Lambie, putting a fearful dent in the Q&A desk: “The fact is we have one law in this country and it is the n law. It is not Sharia Law, not in this country. Not in my day.”

And so it went on, Jones finally forced to intervene to end the conflagration

Jones: “Can I say shouting at each other is not going to help.”

But we weren’t quite done. Not long after, up came Trump and his Muslim ban.

Abdel-Magied:  “Oh, girl.”

Lambie: “Stop playing the victim.”

Abdel-Magied: “Please can I ask you this…”

Lambie: “Your ban got lifted. Get over it.”

Congratulations Senator, you’re through to the next round.

   Dec 12

Honey Birdette former staff in new campaign over alleged harassment, exploitation

Burn baby burn: Chanelle Rodgers and Tori Bellentina burn bras from former Honey Birdette workers at a protest late last year. Photo: Chris Hopkins Co-founder Eloise Monaghan and Janelle Barboza (now departed) said they launched Honey Birdette so a “woman can feel comfortable with her sexuality”. Photo: Nic Walker

Stung into action: former Honey Birdette workers, Lee Smyth, 26, Harriet Jane, 21, and Shelley Murphy, 26, at the Valentine’s Day protest. Photo: Peter Rae

Claire Boland (with megaphone) from the Young Workers Centre, with former staff and supporters at the protest, the culmination of a “break up with Honey Birdette” boycott campaign that has attracted over 1000 signatures in a week. Photo: Peter Rae

“Love struck.” “Skip a beat.” “Head over heels.”

These are slogans from underwear and sex-toy chain Honey Birdette’s Valentine’s Day sales campaign. Each is attached to an image of a woman in stylised lingerie and passively posed – the last precariously on her knees, on the verge of tipping over.

Critics say the language, including the words “beat” and “struck”, continues the brand’s alleged dangerous and exploitative workplace practices, as new claims emerge of an ex-staffer being whipped by a customer.

On Tuesday, dozens of former staff and supporters gathered at Honey Birdette’s headquarters, in Sydney’s Surry Hills, to present co-founder and chief executive Eloise Monaghan with a Valentine’s Day “break up” letter as part of a campaign to improve the company’s workplace safety.

Industrial organisation the Young Workers Centre says hundreds of claims by current and former Honey Birdette staff, overwhelmingly young and female, have been ignored by managers because they see harassment as “part of the job.”

An earlier petition and protest at a Melbourne Central store received 7500 signatures in support.

The latest revelations have prompted Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek to condemn sexual harassment by clients as a form of violence against women, and call for greater action from the government.

“We need a co-ordinated safety campaign involving workplace regulators and the Human Rights Commission. As both Minister for Women and Employment, Michaelia Cash needs to act,” Ms Plibersek said.

The new campaign against a chain part-owned by retail billionaire Brett Blundy has seen new former “honeys” go public with tales of alleged exploitation and harassment.

Ex-employee Harriet says Honey Birdette’s workplace culture encouraged staff to tolerate harassment to boost sales.

Employed during 2014-15, Harriet alleges she was once repeatedly whipped by a customer with a riding crop, but received no support, improved security or safety training after the incident.

She also alleges staff were encouraged to hand out private phone numbers to clients in the hope of increasing sales.

“At a sales boot camp, the then national manager talked about being sexually harassed by a male customer who offered her large amount of money for sexual services and [boasted how she] used that as a point to make a $1000 sale –  that’s how [we were trained] to deal with it,” said Harriet, who was employed at a Sydney Westfield shopping centre store.

She declined to have her surname published on privacy grounds.

“I was 19 years old, had never worked in retail before. I didn’t feel I had any place to speak up or try and protect myself because managers always told us it’s our own fault if we can’t turn it into a huge sale,” Harriet said.

Other staff have alleged they worked regular eight-hour shifts without toilet and meal breaks. Lee, who also declined to reveal her surname, told Fairfax Media she worked over a month of unpaid “trials”, including opening stores for daily trade.

Honey Birdette’s head of human resources, Bronwyn Bateman, said the company was committed to improving its employment practices, had engaged a Work Safety consultant to develop “best in class” procedures, and supplied Fairfax Media with its “zero-tolerance policy” on harassment, which encourages employees to deal with it “informally” by “tell[ing] the person to stop.”

Catharine Lumby, professor of media at Macquarie University, who has helped develop such policies for organisations including the National Rugby League and the n Defence Force, described Honey Birdette’s as “laughable”.

“There is nothing wrong with, and no woman should be judged for, choosing to work in places where they are asked to wear garments of a sexual nature,” Professor Lumby said.

But she said companies’ anti-harassment policies need to be framed around the risks specific to the job, including client education, security guards to protect staff from predators, and additional remuneration for the physical and mental risks.

“The policy appears to be cobbled together as a result of media reports,” Professor Lumby said.

“There is no evidence of a research-based education program – which would have to be aimed at the customers.”

The latest revelations come in the wake of a major investigation by Fairfax Media into the prevalence of sexual harassment by customers and clients in a broad range of industries including health, education and social work, as well as retail and hospitality.

Harassment by customers – as distinct from bosses and co-workers – was made a breach of the Sex Discrimination Act in 2011.

Despite the amendment, there have been no prosecutions in the almost six years since the law was passed.

Nor have employers and workplace and safety regulators ramped up their compliance and enforcement activities in what critics say is “entrenched sexism” regarding the hazards female workers face.

“Gendered violence, like harassment, stalking and intimidation by customers has serious health and safety consequences for workers,” said Keelia Fitzpatrick, Young Workers Centre co-ordinator.

Senator Cash said the government condemned sexual harassment of any kind.

“All workers should feel confident that they can go to work and not be subjected to harassment, abuse, intimidation or be made to feel uneasy,” Senator Cash said.

Ms Plibersek said the time has come for Senator Cash to get regulators and rights organisations to act.

“The Sex Discrimination Act was amended five years ago, but many employers still aren’t aware of the law and their duty to protect their workers,” Ms Plibersek said

​”Sexual harassment by customers is a form of violence against women. Employers can’t always stop this from happening but they need to take it seriously when it does,” she said.

“Female employees need to know that the customer is not always right.

“Women’s safety matters more than sales.”​

   Dec 12

Whistleblower laws could deliver multi-billion budget boost: US lawyer

Jacob Varghese (far right), the incoming chief executive of Maurice Blackburn Photo: supplied Former Securities Exchange Commission lawyer and whistleblower expert Jordan Thomas. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Top n-American lawyer Lesley Ann Skillen has highlighted the multibillion-dollar budget-boosting benefit of introducing US-style whistleblower protections in in a submission to a government inquiry.

Ms Skillen, the former director of policy and international relations at the n Securities and Investments Commission and now a partner at New York firm Getnick & Getnick LLP, has also urged to introduce legislation to protect whistleblowers including bounties and provisions to safeguard the identities of those blowing the whistle.

“There is no more compelling argument for the introduction of a US-style whistleblower-for-reward law modelled on the False Claims Act in than the track record of the act in the United States,” Ms Skillen said.

Between 1986 and 2016, the US recovered $US53 billion ($69 billion) through whistleblower cases. Of that number $37 billion has been collected through the bounty system. Under this system a whistleblower gets a cut (usually about 10 per cent) of the penalty issued as long as their tip panned out.

“Billions more have been recovered in related criminal fines and in False Claims Act cases brought on behalf of state governments,” she said.

Ms Skillen, who has run some of the biggest whistleblower and class actions in recent US history, made the comments in a submission to a government inquiry into the need for greater whistleblower protections in .

Former Securities Exchange Commission assistant director Jordan Thomas also argued that should adopt the US’s system.

“In the United States, we have whistleblower bounty programs that incentivise reporting of securities, commodities and tax violations, along with fraud against the government,” Mr Thomas, who is now a partner at Labaton Sucharow, said.

“There is little doubt that they would be popular with n citizens. After all, for the last several years, ns have consistently been one of the top sources of tips for the SEC Whistleblower Program,” he said.

Jacob Varghese, the incoming chief executive of law firm Maurice Blackburn, said incentives were needed as on many occasions whistleblowers sacrificed their livelihood and reputation to speak up.

“Whistleblowing to expose wrongdoing and misconduct shouldn’t come at such a high cost to the individual,” Mr Varghese said.

“It is in everyone’s best interests that whistleblower protection in is bolstered and incentives are provided.”

   Dec 12

Polar opposites Trump and Trudeau talk during White House meeting about empowering women

1. Trump meets Trudeau

A tale of two leaders.

One promotes so many females he crafts his country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

The other boasts about grabbing them by the you-know-where.

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau has arrived in Washington to talk with US President Donald Trump. Trump has tweeted his meeting will include a group of business women to discuss women in the workforce. [Catherine Lucey/AP] Justin Trudeau is looking at Trump’s hand like he just read the Russian Dossier pic.twitter苏州夜网/XGpGF7O7LG— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) February 13, 2017

The two are opposites on a range of issues, not just their attitudes toward women – another obvious difference is Muslim immigration. Nice recap on all those issues by Evan Annett. [The Globe and the Mail]

But will the left’s political superhero take on their “bad dude?” Don’t count on it.

Trade is likely to be the focus, given Trump wants to rip up the trade agreement between Mexico, the US and Canada, often called NAFTA. [Reuters]

On the domestic front, watch this space on the scandal surrounding Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn who is under fire for contacting the Russians about Obama’s sanctions before Trump’s inauguration and then lying about it. Like the proverbial bad tradesman, Trump is reportedly unhappy with numerous staff, including press secretary Sean Spicer and those who crafted his now defeated immigration ban. [Politico]

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Bloomberg

In , there’s a strain of thinking that Turnbull’s phone call managed to set Trump back on the straight and narrow with China and Japan. [Peter Hartcher/The Sydney Morning Herald]

And while we’re in this space, Kevin Rudd says Malcolm Turnbull is no “Robinson Crusoe” when it comes to standing up to tetchy US presidents. The former PM pointed to his own dealings with George W. Bush as a prior example. [My Report/Fairfax]

Humming ‘anything you can do…” right now… 2. Aus politics

Everyone on the left needs to sit up and notice Yassim Adbel-Magied, who was the star of the ABC’s Q&A last night.

Her debate (at times a yelling match) with the patently anti-Muslim Senator Jacqui Lambie is one of the best fight-backs to the discriminatory views now being normalised by the far-right (and to a degree by the Liberals) that I have seen to date.

Passionate but logical, this Sudanese born n is a lady to watch and surely has a big future in the debate in whatever forum she chooses. 

And now to the ongoing furore of the WA Liberal Party’s decision to aid the normalisation of One Nation, the other prominent Senate voice urging discriminatory policies against Muslims.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Liberal powerbroker Mathias Cormann is reported to have stepped in to aid the deal with One Nation, along with fellow right-wing conservative Michaelia Cash. Some internal opponents are now blaming the pair. [David Crowe, Rosie Lewis/The n]

Another former PMs alert:

The WA Libs are hoping John Howard will bring some razzle dazzle to their campaign. [Andrew Burrell/The n]

Former prime minister Bob Hawke. Photo: James Jessup

Bob Hawke, a long-time supporter of Israel, has condemned Israel’s expansionist policy in the West Bank and called for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to recognise Palestine. [Oped/Financial Review]

The AFR has a big story – former Liberal trade minister Andrew Robb has privately pushed Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer to hold a Royal Commission into the banks, backing Labor’s policy. [Joanna Mather, Philip Coorey]

Scott Morrison with Christian Porter and Senator Simon Brimingham. Photo: Andrew Meares

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter have decided the best way of securing funding for the publicly supported National Disability Insurance Scheme is to tie funding for the NDIS to their welfare spending cuts. (Insert thinking face emoji here!) [Adam Gartrell/Fairfax]

Timely analysis from Laura Tingle on how Christian Porter and Scott Morrison, two charisma-less leadership hopefuls, lack the political touch. [Financial Review]

And Scott Morrison’s characteristic dismissal of calls to cooperate to reform the energy market earn him sharp criticism from Michelle Grattan, who says his approach is the sort of “arrogance that alienates voters.” [The Conversation] 3. French elections

Far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen has visited Nice and walked along the Promenade des Anglais, where she cited last year’s horrific terrorist attack in accusing the government of being soft on extremism. [Sky News]

The candidate in the lead, former Socialist minister now En Marche leader Emmanuel Macron, has become the victim of Russian fake news stories and hacking attacks, a sure sign of the threat he poses to Le Pen, whom Putin would favour given she supports quitting the European Union. [Sky News Britain]

There’s a really fabulous profile of Macron in the New York Times. My must-read for today. [Adam Nossiter] 4. Avalanche in the Alps

Staying in France and an avalanche has killed at least four people in the ski resort of Tignes. [Reuters] 5. New destruction of Palymra


Drone footage released by Russia’s Defence Ministry shows Islamic State have demolished more parts of the ancient amphitheatre at Palymra. [AP] 6. Press photo of the year

AP’s Burhan Ozbilici has won the World Press Photo competition for this photo he took of the Russian ambassador to Turkey’s assassination.  [email protected] photographer @BurhanOzbilici wins World Press Photo competition for image of Russian ambassador’s assassin. https://t苏州夜生活/4jEfWHBKxIpic.twitter苏州夜网/Grdu6XFRfI— The Associated Press (@AP) February 13, 2017

But at least one of the judges disagrees that this particular image is worth heralding. [Stuart Franklin/The Guardian]

And that’s it from me today – you can follow me on Facebook for more.

   Dec 12

My Kitchen Rules 2017 series contestant Sarah Tully hails from Quilpie

Foodie friends: Sarah Tully (right), together with Della Whearty, both 30, describe their MKR pairing as “a bit of an odd combo” but can’t wait to show everybody what they can do in the kitchen.

Mutton may have disappeared from most of the dinner tables in urban over the years but thanks to Sarah Tully, it could make a comeback.

The nursewith a surname synonymous with Quilpie is going to have every household in the south west town, and beyond, glued to their television sets on Sunday night when she makes her first appearance in the ratings-topping reality TV cooking show, My Kitchen Rules.

It will be a similar scene at Sarah’s Brisbane home, where her proud mum is sure her talents for an impromptu party will be well in evidence.

“She’s just one of those natural cooks;she doesn’t need a recipe,” Ann-Maree Tully said. “Sarah gets in the kitchen and amazing dishes just appear.”

The nurse who specialises in indigenous health has teamed up with construction lawyer Della Whearty, and dubbed themselves the “Foodie Friends” to pit their cooking skills against contestants from around for the reward of being crowned the country’s best amateur chefs and a $250,000 prize.

The pair is one of six taking part in the second round of MKR’s instant restaurants, in which teams taketurns to transform their home for a pressure cooker night, plating upa three-course menu designed to impress the judges and their fellow contestants to avoid elimination.

Sarah has made lots of friends from her days at St Finbarr’s at Quilpie and then at Stuartholme College in Brisbane, and she says they all find it hilarious that she’s going to be on television.

“They’re expecting me to say some crazy things –we get to have a few bubbles at the table,” she laughed. “I hear Quilpie’s going off too.”

On the show, Sarah is known as “Tully” to differentiate her from another contestant with the same name, but her country personality shines through, especially in her choice of signature dish of 12 hour mutton and lemon potatoes with a fancy salad.

“I grew up eating cheaper cuts of meat with my large family so I love being able to make them really delish,” she said.

“I think people on the show were shocked at the thought of me using mutton, and some didn’t know the difference between that and lamb.

“I think Pete (Evans, series judge) had had some once.”

Unlike them, Sarah lives for visits from her mum and dad from home with an esky full of chops and shoulders, and she happily announces her fridge is once again full of choice Quilpie cuts.

On the show, she takes a supporting role – cleaning, chopping, grinding, preparing and being the gofer – while Della is the driving force.

“Some say we’re extroverts and the life of the party and while we both enjoy a good laugh we do take our jobs very seriously,” Sarah reveals.

Della and Sarah taking part in one of the instant restaurant dinner party critiques.

Like most relationships, they enjoy robust discussions, but Sarah said she had learnt a lot about cooking from working with Della.

“I learnt a lot about human nature as well,” she added.

“It took close to half a year to film the show. We had long days, and it was quite exhausting, but the fun you have offsets that.

“And you meet people you’d never meet otherwise.”

Opening a restaurant isn’t on Sarah’s to-do list as a result of going on the show, but she loves hosting events and talking to people, so she’s looking forward to doing that with a few new storiesto tell in future.

“I’m still a nurse and I love that, but I also love entertaining. MKR encompassed that and cooking, and it was nice to do something out of my comfort zone.”

The first outback Queenslanders to feature on the show were Mount Isa’s Jac and Shaz, who finished as runners-up in 2015 and had a billboard erected in their honour at the city airport welcome sign.

Quilpie mayor Stuart Mackenzie said the idea of a billboard for his town hadn’t been suggested yet.

“No doubt Sarah will add to the legend of the Tully family, our original Irish family who came out with the Costellos and the Duracks and are still here,” he said. “We’re getting ready to celebrate our centenary in April, so we can add Sarah’s cooking feats to our list of achievements.”

Queensland Country Life

   Dec 12

GPT Group expands footprint in Parramatta

GPT Group, one of the country’s largest diversified real estate investment trusts, has expanded its presence in the booming Sydney western suburbs with the purchase of a site on the corner of Smith and Phillip Streets in the heart of Parramatta’s CBD, for $31.2 million.

The site, which has the potential to accommodate a 26,000-square- metre prime office tower, represents GPT’s first investment in the Parramatta CBD office market.

With the potential new airport at Badgery’s Creek and the rise in development at nearby Sydney Olympic Park-Homebush precincts, demand for office, retail and residential developments are at high levels.

Parramatta has already attracted more than $6 billion of investments in new projects from the updated Civic Square to the new sites from Walker Corp, DEXUS Property and Scentre​ Group’s proposed office tower atop its Westfield Parramatta shopping centre.

A recent report by PwC estimated Parramatta’s workforce would grow 14 per cent to 186,000 by 2021. The report estimated Parramatta’s economic growth would double to 4.6 per cent per annum over the next five years due to significant infrastructure investment and major developments in the area.

GPT’s 2439-square-metre site is in one of Parramatta CBD’s prime locations, less than 500 metres from Parramatta train station and a block away from the planned $1.2 billion Riverbank cultural and entertainment precinct on the Parramatta River.

In the latest Property Council of ‘s office market report, Parramatta’s office market has the third lowest vacancy rate in the country.

The vacancy rate fell in Parramatta from 4.5 per cent to 4.3 per cent in the six months to January 2017 with only East Melbourne and Southbank in Victoria producing lower rates.

PCA’s NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Parramatta’s sub 5 per cent vacancy rate puts it third on the list of office markets across the country, “which means it is a tight tussle for office space”.

GPT’s head of office and logistics, Matthew Faddy, said any proposed office development on the site would support Parramatta City Council, the Greater Sydney Commission and the NSW government’s strategy to develop Parramatta as Sydney’s dual CBD.

“GPT is very excited to have marked its entry into Parramatta’s CBD office market by securing this prime location,” Mr Faddy said. “Already ‘s fifth largest office market, Parramatta’s CBD is expected to see significant growth in demand for quality office space over the next decade.

“Parramatta’s location in the geographical centre of Sydney will see its importance grow with the majority of Sydney’s population set to be based in the west within the next two decades,” he said.

“The NSW government’s plans for new light rail, Metro rail lines and motorway connections into Parramatta, along with the rejuvenation of the CBD along Parramatta River, will only boost the appeal of the area as a commercial centre.”