Monthly Archives: July 2018

NBN raids: Stephen Conroy to maintain document privilege fight in retirement

Parliament House security officers, staff members of Stephen Conroy and AFP officers in the basement of Parliament House during a raid. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen AFP agents raid a Labor staffer’s house in Melbourne. Photo: Nick Toscano
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Stephen Conroy with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Labor senator Stephen Conroy has vowed to continue his fight to stop police accessing thousands of pages of documents relating to the National Broadband Network, despite his shock departure from Parliament.

The veteran Labor powerbroker and former communications minister, whose 20-year Senate career officially finishes on Friday, said there were “fundamental principles” at stake and the documents must remain sealed.

Australian Federal Police officers sensationally raided Senator Conroy’s office during the federal election campaign and later executed a search warrant at Parliament House to access the building’s email servers.

Senator Conroy has claimed the seized documents are protected by parliamentary privilege and the matter has been referred to the high-powered Senate Privileges Committee for consideration.

If the committee – which comprises four Coalition and three Labor senators, plus one from Greens – finds the documents are privileged it will be a blow to the AFP investigation into the unauthorised leaking of documents by NBN officials.

“The principles here are fundamental,” Senator Conroy told Fairfax Media.

“If we can’t protect people who come to us with information, no one will ever come to us again.”

Senator Conroy stunned his colleagues by tabling a motion in the Senate earlier this month revealing he was quitting Parliament.

He said he had received advice from Senate Clerk Rosemary Laing that his departure from the Senate would make “absolutely no difference” to his claim of privilege.

“I was in a privileged position at the time – you can’t take away privilege,” he said.

Senator Conroy said he and a large team of experts were preparing a substantial submission to the Privileges Committee arguing why the documents should not be handed over to police.

Senator Conroy – who oversaw the initial rollout of the NBN – has described the AFP investigation as “an attempt to intimidate people to not actually do their parliamentary duties”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the police operation was completely independent of government and it is “outrageous” to suggest otherwise.

The Privileges Committee’s deliberations are likely to focus on the question of whether all the seized documents relate to Senator Conroy’s work in relation to “proceedings of Parliament”.

The committee, which operates largely behind closed doors, traditionally operates in a less partisan fashion than other parliamentary committees.

Bede Harris, an expert in constitutional law at Charles Sturt University, said the Conroy case would be a key test of the scope of parliamentary privilege – a concept that stretches back to 17th century England.

Dr Harris said a broad definition of parliamentary proceedings is usually applied when the question of privileged documents arises.

NBN chairman Ziggy Switkowski has defended the decision to call in police on the grounds the NBN had been the victim of ideologically motivated theft.

“When dozens of confidential company documents are stolen, this is theft,” Dr Switkowski wrote in an opinion piece for Fairfax Media.

“When they are the basis of media headlines and partisan attacks, they wrongly tarnish our reputation, demoralise our workforce, distract the executive, and raise doubts where there is little basis for concern.”

The initial warrant issued by the AFP said police were seeking documents relating to The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, the ABC and technology website Delimiter.

These outlets published a series of damaging stories, based on internal NBN documents marked “commercial in confidence”, about the the poor state of the cable TV and broadband network it purchased from Optus and of the copper network purchased from Telstra.

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Australia loses attempt to knock out East Timor’s maritime boundary complaint

Protesters at the Australian embassy in Dili, the capital of East Timor, calling for a final maritime boundary in the Timor Sea. Photo: Wayne LovellAustralia has lost in its claim that an international commission has no jurisdiction to hear a complaint by East Timor in the bitter dispute over undersea oil and gas riches.
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year knocked back a call for fresh negotiations on the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea, but the decision released on Monday from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague opens the way for talks between the two countries.

East Timor remains incensed by allegations that Australian spies bugged the cabinet office of its tiny neighbour during negotiations for a 2006 treaty to divide oil and gas revenue.

In a statement on Monday, the commission at The Hague ruled it had the jurisdiction to hold a “conciliation” under a never-before invoked article of the international law of the sea.

The decision was handed down on September 19, but kept under wraps until this week.

East Timor wants a greater slice of revenues and now argues the resources fall within its territory, triggering the conciliation claim.

Independence hero Xanana Gusmao welcomed the decision, linking the dispute with East Timor’s long struggle against Indonesian occupation.

“Just as we fought so hard and suffered so much for our independence, Timor-Leste will not rest until we have our sovereign rights over both land and sea,” Mr Gusmao said in a statement.

But Australia challenged the legal basis of the commission to hear the case during at times tense closed-door proceedings last month, insisting East Timor should respect the existing treaty – which has delivered $16 billion in revenue to the fledgling nation.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was also quick to note the conciliation process invoked by East Timor is not binding. Australia has already withdrawn from the compulsory arbitration rules for drawing up maritime boundaries under international law.

The commission rejected Australia’s argument that the existing treaty, which includes a 50-year moratorium on maritime boundary negotiations, meant there were no grounds for conciliation.

East Timor argued the exiting treaty – known as Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea – was “null and void”.

The dispute has become a rare example of a foreign policy difference between the major parties in Australia, with Labor pledging at the last election to return to the negotiating table with East Timor.

Labor’s Penny Wong said in light of the ruling, the government should settle the dispute with East Timor “in fair and permanent terms”.

Bec Strating from La Trobe University warned last week ahead of the conciliation was unlikely to change Australia’s approach, and East Timor was “running out of time” to fix a rapidly declining economy.

East Timor specialist Michael Leach from Swinburne University of Technology said conciliation would still be important politically, even though it will not be binding legally.

Professor Leach said the decision suggests Australia’s obligation under international law to negotiate a maritime boundary in good faith has survived the treaties with East Timor.

But Professor Leach said Australia could circumvent the legal process altogether by agreeing to border negotiations – “and settle this irritant in the relationship for good.”

The conciliation was invoked in April, and is now expected to run for the next year, at least.

The Australian government said on Monday the present arrangements had been “hugely beneficial” for East Timor and the existing treaties had been negotiated in good faith.

Ms Bishop said government “will continue to engage in good faith as we move to the next phase of the conciliation process” in line with global rules and the commission would produce a report that is non-binding.

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Turnbull government MP Steve Irons also charged taxpayers to fly wife home after wedding

Steve Irons with his wife, Cheryle. Photo: Twitter Federal Liberal MP Steve Irons was married in Melbourne in 2011. Photo: Guy Magowan
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a campaign rally breakfast for Steve Irons in June. Photo: Andrew Meares

A Turnbull government MP under fire for using parliamentary perks to attend his own wedding is facing fresh questions after it was revealed taxpayers also footed the bill for his wife to fly home with him after the ceremony.

Liberal MP Steve Irons charged taxpayers $1346 for a flight to Victoria to wed Melbourne-based real estate agent Cheryle Street at Crown Casino in October 2011, spending a further $912 for his return flight home about one week later.

The member for the Perth-based seat of Swan said on Monday the charges had been repaid after “a self-audit” of travel expenses.

But a further examination of travel documents shows Mr Irons was accompanied by his new wife on the flight home to Perth, also at a cost to the taxpayer of $912.

A spokeswoman for Mr Irons said the MP’s new wife flew with him to Perth to attend an official reception with the Queen at Government House, and said the fare was within travel entitlement rules.

Her flight back home to Melbourne cost $656. Mr Irons also went back to Melbourne with her, at a cost of $1133. The spokeswoman did not say why he needed to travel back to Melbourne.

Mrs Irons relocated permanently from Melbourne to Western Australia in April 2012 and is now a City of Perth councillor.

The spotlight is again focused on politician travel entitlements after TheWest Australian newspaper revealed Mr Irons had also used taxpayer funds to pay for flights to a Gold Coast golf tournament last year. The trip included a $258 bill for three nights’ accommodation in Coolangatta and $1875 for a flight from Brisbane to Perth.

Mr Irons said he had used the trip to study golf tourism opportunities at the International Team Challenge, after being invited to attend by the Australian PGA.

He denied the trip was a breach of the rules, despite travelling as chairman of the parliamentary friends of sport group and claiming the cost under “electorate business” entitlements.

The spokeswoman said Mr Irons’ wedding flights had been repaid voluntarily.

“These flights were identified during a self-audit and brought to the attention of the Department of Finance,” she said.

In 2013, Mr Irons repaid more than $10,000 for flights and taxis, including for travel to Melbourne coinciding with his son’s AFL debut for Port Adelaide in 2011.

Treasurer Scott Morrison charged taxpayers $354 to attend Mr Irons’ wedding, but later repaid the cost.

Mr Morrison, then an opposition frontbench MP, said he had “inadvertently” claimed travel allowance for the trip.

A review of travel entitlements was launched in 2015 after the Abbott government was hit by a series of scandals.

Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop was forced to resign in August last year after charging taxpayers for a $5277 helicopter ride to a Liberal fundraiser, while the late WA Liberal MP Don Randall repaid taxpayers for flights to Cairns to visit an investment property.

The review found the system was too ambiguous, lacked transparency and had undermined public confidence in politics, but stopped short of urging a major overhaul.

It recommended a new definition of “parliamentary business” and said party political activities should restricted to events with “a direct and substantial connection to the parliamentarian’s membership of the Parliament”.

The government endorsed proposed guidelines and transparency provisions but the new scheme is yet to be established. 

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Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? How the markets will react

Hillary Clinton’s post-convention lead in the polls has diminished. Photo: Real Clear Politics Investors are turning their attention to the US election, and analysts expect volatility in the lead-up. Photo: Leigh Henningham
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Buoyed by accommodative central banks, investors’ focus is now turning to the US presidential election, and while analysts expect volatility and safe havens to thrive in the lead-up, the impact on Australian markets should be minimal, they say.

With seven weeks until the November 8 election, the first of three televised debates, scheduled for 11am AEST on Tuesday (9pm on Monday in New York), may result in some jostling in the markets, which have until now been complacent in what appears to be a tight race, Capital Economics’ chief economist for Australia and New Zealand Paul Dales said.

“The markets have been surprisingly sanguine on the election so far. It’s possible that tomorrow’s debate will shake things up a bit, especially if [Donald] Trump does well,” he said.

Despite a New York Times poll putting Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, at 45 per cent, just ahead of Trump, at 43 per cent, the market is only partially pricing in a Trump victory, Citi chief global political analyst Tina Fordham said. The markets have been otherwise occupied with central bank moves from the Bank of Japan and Federal Reserve in particular.

However, should Trump move higher in the polls in the lead-up to the election, market moves may be exaggerated as investors rush to reprice the risk. An 85 per cent probability of a Trump victory priced into markets could result in a strengthening US dollar, particularly against emerging market currencies, Ms Fordham said. It could also spark a sell-off in long-dated bonds and a fall on the S&P 500 by around 3 per cent as it prices in trade headwinds and the risk of recession, while gold could surge from around $US1330 an ounce to $US1400 in a flight to safety.

“Equities and bonds may weaken together,” Ms Fordham said.

Westpac strategists Richard Franulovich and Sean Callow said a Clinton presidency would result in a benign outcome for US equities, because she is more of a known quantity than her opponent. “[It] may well even produce a relief rally into 2017,” they said.

The benefit may not extend to all stocks, and they note financial stocks may suffer in anticipation of Clinton’s reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act which restricts commercial banks from operating in investment banking.

A win for Clinton, and her likely pro-growth fiscal stance, would not only boost stocks but also the US dollar. But as long as the polls indicate a Trump victory is possible, risk aversion and volatility are likely to rise in the lead-up to poll day, keeping a lid on risk assets including the Australian dollar, New Zealand and Asian currencies, they said.

“There could be an initial squeeze higher in these currencies in the event of a Clinton win, if the safe-haven US dollar slips back in the immediate response.

“Volatility should be high both sides of the election almost regardless of the polls.”

Capital Economics doubts, however, a surprise Trump win in November would translate to a big sell-off in shares, but if Trump’s protectionist policies are implemented once he takes the oval office US equities would suffer, particularly companies with multinational earnings, Mr Dales said.

While Australian equities should be less exposed, “if there is a lurch to protectionism around the whole world, then that would hit the profits of multinational Australian companies and their equity prices,” he said.

Macquarie analysts also expect the effect on Australia’s economy and markets to be minimal. The US accounts for just 10 per cent of Australia’s exports, mostly airline parts, meat and wine, while immigration to the US is low. They liken the unpredictability of a Trump win to a “Brexit-like event”.

“The unpredictability of Trump raises the risk premium for financial assets but the reality is that both candidates represent a shift from the current political consensus of austerity and globalisation – Trump, a little more dramatically and with less qualification,” the equity strategists said.

Among the policies expected to affect Australia, both Trump and Clinton have said they intend to boost infrastructure spending; however, the impacts will be diluted over a gradual roll out.

“This may potentially give an announcement day push for those exposed to building and construction [Boral, James Hardie, Reliance Worldwide and Transurban] but the earnings impact would be immaterial. It is more likely that the biggest impact will be translation benefits, it if comes with a stronger US dollar.”

Healthcare policies may also weigh on local stocks. A repeal of Obamacare flagged by Trump may present downside for Sirtex Medical and Sonic Healthcare, while the creation of a free-market drug pricing policy by Trump could boost CSL.

Citi however said of the few “black swan” events that could cause market upset from a Clinton win, could be a tougher stance on big pharma.

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ASX ends flat despite drag from Woolworths, Wesfarmers

Woolworths shares fell 2.1 per cent on reports German supermarket chain Lidl was applying for trademarks in Australia. Photo: Pat ScalaThe Australian sharemarket shook off its negative start but failed to post a gain, ending flat as the two big consumer staple stocks, Woolworths and Wesfarmers fell on the threat of new competition.
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The S&P/ASX 200 Index started the week lower as it followed Wall Street’s weak Friday lead, before rising in the afternoon and bouncing along break even point. At close of trade, the benchmark Index was just 0.1 of a point higher at 5431.4, while the All Ordinaries ended 0.5 of a point higher at 5519.1.

The flat finish also reflected a hesitation among investors ahead of Tuesday morning’s US presidential debate, which may result in the market repricing the odds of a Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton presidency. US futures pointed to another weak session ahead of the televised event.

“People are very cautious and so they should be,” Morgans stockbroker Troy Fidler said. “The upcoming US election but also the potential interest rate hike both of those macro things affect our market here.”

The big four banks ended mostly flat, driving the performance of the overall Index, while the biggest movement came in real estate and consumer staples sectors, which were the best and worst performing sectors, rising 1.5 per cent and falling 1 per cent respectively.

Woolworths was the biggest drag on the index, falling 2.1 per cent, followed by rival Wesfarmers, down 0.7 per cent. It came after news emerged that German discount supermarket chain Lidl had applied for trademarks in Australia.

“Whenever a foreign player is mentioned in the press, it has a short-term effect, but that eventually blows over,” Mr Fidler said. “Coles and Woolworths are very well established here and I’m a big believer those companies will survive any foreign threat.

“Aldi has been here for 15 years now, and it’s taken them quite a while to get the 11 or 12 per cent market share.”

Scentre Group and Westfield led the gains by weight, up 1.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

The day’s best performing stock was SAI Global, which surged 28.7 per cent after it announced it had accepted a $1.1 billion takeover bid.

Energy stocks shrugged off the weak lead set by a 4 per cent drop in oil prices on the weekend after they stabilised through Asian trade, with Santos still fell 1.9 per cent, but its losses were offset by another strong session for Whitehaven Coal, which finished up 7.5 per cent. Market moversBrent crude

The price of Brent crude steadied on Monday through Asian trade, rising 0.9 per cent to $US46.31 a barrel despite falling by the most in more than two months over the weekend after talks between producers Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to come to an agreement on a supply freeze. The commodity fell 4 per cent on Friday, however an offer by Saudi Arabia to cut its output if fellow producer Iran capped its own supply raised hopes for a future deal.  SAI Global

Shares in the information and standards company soared on Monday by as much as 31 per cent on news it had accepted a $1.1 billion takeover from Baring Asia Private Equity. The board unanimously accepted a $4.75 a share all-cash bid, a 32 per cent premium on its Friday closing price of $3.59. The share price jump was the company’s biggest one day jump since listing. The deal comes more than two years after local outfit Pacific Equity Partners made a similarly priced bid but the firm later walked away from.  Currencies

While the Australian dollar lost some ground in the wake of US dollar strength, steading in the local session to fetch around US76.23¢, its peer across the ditch fell to a one-month low. The New Zealand dollar fell to US72.21¢ after official data revealed its trade deficit had widened more than expected. Meanwhile, the Turkish lira took a dive, extending its losses and hitting a six week low after ratings agency Moody’s on Friday cut the country’s credit rating to junk. Asian shares

Shares in Hong Kong fell to a two-week low, while the broad MSCI Asia Index slipped from its 14-month high in the wake of the failure for the informal talks between OPEC members to materialise in a curb in output. While oil prices stabilised throughout trade, the big fall at the weekend weighed on sentiment, while futures pointed to a weak start for European and US shares, which will trade ahead of the US presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Stock watch: Whitehaven Coal

So much for a dying industry: coal miner Whitehaven Coal is the second-best performing stock on the ASX 200 this year, surging 268 per cent. It posted yet another strong session on Monday, climbing 7.5 per cent and has been a regular fixture on the top of the leaderboard on the ASX this year.

While the company does not sell to China, the stability of the world’s second biggest economy has given support to commodity prices this year, including coal. While coking coal, used in steel-making, has captured attention this year for doubling in price, steaming coal, used in energy production and Whitehaven’s main product, has risen 40 per cent to around $US215 a tonne.

The company has used the lift in prices to pay down debt, but also a potential boost from its Maules Creek project, which is currently under construction. Three of 14 analysts on Bloomberg have a “buy” rating on the stock, while five have a “hold” and five a “sell”.

Whitehaven shares closed at $2.58 on Monday.

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AFL grand final 2016: Joel Hamling says he’s staying at Western Bulldogs

Joel Hamling in action against Hawthorn earlier in the finals. Photo: AFL Media/Getty ImagesOut-of-contract Western Bulldogs defender Joel Hamling says he expects to be at the club next year despite being linked with a move back to Western Australia.
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Having spent three years on Geelong’s list without playing a game, Hamling, 23, moved to the Bulldogs two years ago as a delisted free agent. He has played 22 games at his new club and become a mainstay of the Dogs’ back line late in the season.

While there has been talk of interest from Fremantle, Hamling said on Monday he did not expect this Saturday’s grand final against Sydney to be his final appearance for the Dogs.

“Yeah, I’ll be at the Bulldogs next year,” Hamling told Fairfax Media. “Hopefully I can sign on for a few more years.”

On the more pressing matter of the grand final, Hamling said he remained in disbelief at how far the Dogs had come.

“It’s pretty surreal,” he said.”It hasn’t really sunk in, to be honest. It’ll probably sink in on Friday when we do the [grand final] parade.”

Describing the feeling after the Dogs clinched last weekend’s preliminary final over Greater Western Sydney, Hamling said the moment had been overwhelming. “It was a big wave of emotion. Sort of knowing we’d won it, to get in a grand final, it’s sort of really surreal. Just exciting to be a part of it.”

The absence from the side of captain Bob Murphy – who sustained a season-ending knee injury in round three – remains on the minds of many, and Hamling said Murphy had continued to provide terrific support for his teammates, as evidenced by an emotional outpouring from the veteran following the final siren at Spotless Stadium.

“Bob’s been really good. Obviously he’s missed out on the grand final but him just being around a big presence and he’ll continue to do that.”

Hamling nominated two other members of the club’s older brigade – Dale Morris and Matthew Boyd – as playing key roles in easing his transition from the Cats. “There are a lot of mentors here at the club and we’re all real close,” he said.

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Jury trials ‘unnecessary’ in civil child abuse cases: Qld Law Society

The question of reintroducing juries into civil child abuse trials has been heard in a Queensland parliamentary committee. Photo: Tanya LakeJury trials should not be reintroduced in civil cases for personal injury arising from child abuse, the Queensland Law Society has argued.
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Law society president Bill Potts spoke on Monday at a public parliamentary committee hearing into two proposed bills that would remove limitations periods for victims to seek civil legal action.

Mr Potts said in civil trials, judges were able to do just as good a job as fact finders as juries.

“It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary,” he said.

Mr Potts said defamation cases with juries “taught us two things”.

“It was an expensive process and secondly that there was no evidence to suggest that the decisions made by juries were any better,” he said.

Mr Potts said in his experience juries got it right, but it was not about juries being better or worse than a judge-only trial.

“It’s not the capacity for a jury to understand, it becomes a use-of-resources question,” he said.

The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee is considering two bills: one introduced by the government that would abolish limitation periods for institutional child sexual abuse; and a private member’s bill from member for Cairns Rob Pyne.

The independent MP’s bill would reintroduce the right to trial by jury for civil actions for personal injury arising from child abuse, remove civil statutory time limits for personal injury arising from child abuse and define child abuse as not restricted to an institutional context and include both sexual and serious physical abuse.

Mr Potts said the law society applauded the government’s actions to address institutional child abuse and “address this scourge on our society”.

He said the society “very cautiously” supported the removal of limitation periods as there may be legitimate reasons for a survivor not to disclose abuse for several years.

Knowmore legal service executive officer Warren Strange said some clients wanted civil jury trials reinstated for the cases and many did not.

And Mr Strange said most were resolved without going to trial.

Micah Projects’ submission supported no limitation period for child sexual, physical and psychological injury.

Chief executive officer Karyn Walsh said some forms of abuse should not be minimised as more or less harmful than others.

“It can do more harm to try and dissect up what consequence or impact or harm came from which form of abuse,” she said.

Ms Walsh said she supported the bill covering more than just abuse in institutions.

“In terms of the Queensland justice system, we believe it should be equitable to all citizens who experience sexual abuse,” she said.

“We don’t think there’s anything gained from the state leaving a population of people out.

“It is a criminal and significant trauma no matter where you experienced that abuse and the right to justice should be equitable.”

The committee is due to report on both bills by November 1.

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Former LNP minister Ian Macfarlane to head Queensland Resources Council

Ian Macfarlane quit politics after he was dumped from the Turnbull ministry. Photo: Alex EllinghausenFormer federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane has been confirmed as the new chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, in a move championed by former prime minister Tony Abbott in May and condemned by the Greens on Monday.
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Mr Macfarlane, who retired from politics after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dumped him from his ministry a year ago, will take up his new role in November.

He will replace outgoing QRC chief executive Michael Roche, who announced his intention to leave the post in July, after 11 years in the role.

Mr Macfarlane said the job offer came at an opportune time, as he was struggling with his retirement.

“I was looking for my golf ball off the sixth fairway and one of the people helping QRC with the search (for a new chief executive) rang me and asked me if I’d consider it,” he said.

“So I thought about it over the weekend – that was about eight weeks ago – and since then I’ve realised I’m not ready to retire as well, so it sort of fitted in perfectly.”

It was a case of good timing, Mr Macfarlane said.

“I’ve got to admit retirement’s not all it’s cracked up to be, so I’m looking forward to getting back to work,” he said.

The new job would require Mr Macfarlane to move to Brisbane, but he said he would still draw on his country experience.

“Being from regional Queensland and being someone who’s been a farmer for more time than he’s been anything else, working with regional communities and ensuring they’re the beneficiaries of the resource industry as much as anyone else is the goal I’ve got,” he said.

“And also, of course, ensuring that it complies with the highest standards of environmental co-operation.

“We need to see the resources industry continue to invest in Queensland and that’s obviously what I’m there for.”

Mr Macfarlane said what the resources industry in Queensland, which had seen 20,000 job losses in two years, needed more than anything else as he took the helm of the QRC was certainty.

“We need to create an environment in Queensland where people can invest with confidence but at the same time ensure that they’re complying with their environmental and community license,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane’s predecessor, Mr Roche, had taken an increasingly combative approach to the role, in particular with green groups and litigants, in the wake of the sector’s downturn.

Mr Macfarlane said he would seek a conciliatory tone, to a degree.

“Everyone’s different and I guess what I’ll be doing is operating on the basis that I’m prepared to have an open and frank debate,” he said.

“But I’d ask people involved in that debate to be truthful and factual.

“Decision-making is based around facts and science and that’s going to be my attitude.

“If everyone works to those parameters, then I am sure we can resolve any differences we may have.”

The incoming president of the QRC, Rag Udd, said the council’s board had secured the services of someone of a significant calibre.

“Ian has had a distinguished career in the Federal Parliament and for most of that time served as a minister or shadow minister in portfolios which included responsibility for the resources sector,” he said.

“Ian is much admired in the resources sector for his deep knowledge of and affinity for the sector. He has proven himself to be bipartisan in his approach to policy and advocacy.

“Ian brings to the role a deep knowledge of bureaucracy, government and industry players, which means that he will be able to hit the ground running.”

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters said Mr Macfarlane’s appointment was “a disgrace” that showed the political system was broken.

“Our politics have been hijacked by big polluters, and this is just the most recent example,” she said.

“Australians are sick to death of the revolving door between politics, big business and big polluters.

“The mining industry and big polluters stalk the halls of power and they’re set to receive $24 billion in fossil fuel subsides in the next four years.

“Ordinary Australians can never hope for that level of access”.

In a speech to Parliament in May, former prime minister Tony Abbott sung Mr Macfarlane’s praises and expressed a desire his work as resources minister would be rewarded in post-political life.

“I hope this sector will acknowledge and demonstrate their gratitude to him in his years of retirement from this place,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Abbott’s hopes were realised.

The Queensland Labor government had previously offered Mr Macfarlane a role as the state’s resources investment commissioner, which he declined as it would have triggered a byelection in his then-seat of Groom.

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Record-breaker Gwenda Allgood took shot at politics after netball court stand-off

Record-breaking Ararat councillor Gwenda Allgood. Photo: Jason SouthShe’s a record-breaking politician, but you’ve probably never seen her on the nightly television news, shaken her hand or seen her kiss a baby.
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Gwenda Allgood, who has represented the people for more than 30 years, holds a title that deserves some serious recognition. The mother of three and grandmother of 10 from Ararat is Victoria’s current longest-serving female politician, across all three tiers of government.

And if she’s successful in next month’s council elections for the Ararat Rural City Council – and she has yet to be beaten – Cr Allgood will extend her record.

The issue that kicked off her political career back in 1982 can be traced to the local netball courts in Ararat.

Cr Allgood was the president of the local netball association and one of her daughters was playing for a team. Cr Allgood became increasingly frustrated about both the state of the courts, and the response from her then local councillors to her concerns.

Gwenda Allgood, pictured in Ararat, is Victoria’s longest-serving female politician, across all three tiers of government. Photo: Jason South

“I tried for a few years to build some netball courts,” she says. “What was happening was that the courts all had different lines on them. And it really worried me, because the kids couldn’t tell the difference between tennis, netball and basketball on this court.

“And the councillors used to always say to me, ‘Yes, we’ll come and have a look.’ I stood there and stood there, night after night – and nobody came.”

The frustrations with the local council continued off-court when Cr Allgood – who operated a dry-cleaning business with her husband, Morrie, at the time – attended council public meetings.

“I used to go to the council meeting, and I must admit that I wasn’t very nice in council meetings,” she says. “I’d go in and I’d get the papers, and I’d flick through to see if the netball courts were mentioned at all. And when they weren’t I was most upset for the rest of the night, to think that nobody had listened.”

But thanks to some powerful campaigning – including wearing a sandwich board to the netball calling for new courts – and much cake-making to help raise money, Cr Allgood won the battle and new courts were built.

The project clearly whetted her appetite for local politics; although the courts were built and opened before the 1982 council election, she ran for council anyway.

In the years since she has been mayor five times. She nominates the construction of the Gum Sam Museum in Ararat, the building of new clubrooms and community centre at the Alexandra Oval, and recent refurbishment of the local pool as some of the highlights during her time on council.

Asked why she kept running for council, she says there is always something that needed to be done. At the moment, she is pushing for a new skate park in Ararat.

Rob Spence, chief executive officer of the Municipal Association of Victoria, says Cr Allgood has made an “amazing” contribution to her community for more than three decades and been a role model for women.

“To do that, to be active as a councillor for that period, shows incredible dedication to your local community,” he says.

Cr Allgood is one of 724 women candidates at next month’s council elections. Of all candidates, 34 per cent are women.

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Parkes Golf Club program changes

Several events have been re Programmed due to the extremely wet conditions of the past and the major changes for the month of October are as follows:
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Sunday 9th will see the Men contest the 1st Round of the Dixon Physiotherapy sponsored Men’s Foursomes Championships.

Sunday 16th is the 2nd Round of the Men’s Foursomes Championships while the Ladies will play their 27 Hole Foursomes Championships with Parkes Betta Home Living and Network Video as the events sponsors.

Thursday 20th will see the Ladies travel to Warren for the Finals of the Western Districts Ladies Golf Associations major events.

Saturday 22nd will be an 18 Hole 2 Ball Medley Stableford with 9 and 18 Hole Individual competitions in conjunction with Michael Smith & Family as sponsors and the event takes on added significance as members play for the R.L. (Bob) Smith Memorial Trophy.

This event has also been earmarked as Member/Non Member Golf Day with each member who brings and plays with a non-member not having to pay Green and Competition Fees for both participants as the event is part of Golf Australia’s October Month of Golf.

Finally the final major event change is that on Sunday 23rd the club will contest an 18 Hole Par 3, 4 Person Ambrose Golf Day with trophies provided for Men, Ladies and Non Golfer Sections so grab three friends an form a side as all profits go to the Clubs Golf Cart Path & Walking Track Construction.

Members are advised that all Programme of Events Changes are listed on the Clubs Noticeboards.

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