Money-washing claims engulf NSW Libs

Written by admin on 07/30/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿网

Allegations of systematic political donation rorting have engulfed the NSW Liberals and sent yet another party MP to the crossbench.

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The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Monday aired claims Liberal figures had used a sham company to secretly funnel more than $400,000 in political donations in exchange for favours from sidelined cabinet minister Chris Hartcher.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, said the watchdog’s investigators had uncovered evidence of “sophisticated, well-organised and systematic subversion of the electoral funding laws” of NSW.

New Premier Mike Baird – who took the job two weeks ago, when Barry O’Farrell was forced to resign over a related ICAC probe – said he was appalled by allegations raised so far.

“If any wrongdoing is found, the book should, and will, be thrown at the perpetrators,” he said.

Central to ICAC’s Operation Spicer is alleged slush fund EightByFive, which was set up by Mr Hartcher’s former staffer Tim Koelma.

The company purported to offer marketing and strategic advice, Mr Watson said.

But its true role was to conceal political donations from property developers. These have been banned in NSW since 2009.

The inquiry has heard EightByFive received $66,000 from coal entrepreneur Nathan Tinkler’s Buildev, $137,000 from the Gazal family’s Gazcorp and $183,000 from the notorious Obeid-linked Australian Water Holdings (AWH).

One MP, upper house MP Marie Ficarra, who is said to have known about EightByFive, stepped down from the parliamentary Liberal Party on Monday at the premier’s request.

She follows MPs Darren Webber, Chris Spence and Mr Hartcher.

Mr Spence and Mr Webber ran as Liberal candidates on the central coast in 2011 and are said to have pocketed $105,000 and $50,000 apiece from EightByFive.

Another Liberal-linked outfit, the Free Enterprise Foundation, was allegedly used by some members of the Liberal Party to “wash” money from prohibited donors.

“The actions of these persons were a serious breach of the law and a serious breach of trust with the voters of NSW,” Mr Watson said.

In the lead-up to the 2011 election the Foundation donated $700,000 to the Liberal Party, he said.

Fundraiser Paul Nicolaou admitted in a private ICAC interrogation that he was aware of multiple examples of prohibited donors giving money to the Liberal Party via the Foundation.

On Monday Mr Nicolaou resigned as chair of a key fundraising entity, the Millennium Foundation, and the premier has signalled some donations may now be repaid.

“I have told the party’s new state director, as a matter of urgency, to investigate the allegations made at ICAC and respond to them promptly,” Mr Baird said.

Meanwhile, two sitting ministers are now under scrutiny.

Energy Minister Anthony Roberts was forced to issue a statement on Monday afternoon after it emerged he had accompanied Mr Hartcher on a 2007 trip to Queensland’s Whitsundays aboard Nabil Gazal’s luxury yacht, Octavia.

“I paid my own airfares and costs associated with my attendance,” Mr Roberts said.

“For these reasons, I understood at the time that I did not need to make a disclosure on my pecuniary interests register … I held no shadow portfolio responsibilities at the time.”

The inquiry continues on Tuesday.

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Kerry warns of ‘apartheid’ Israeli state

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has told a group of senior international officials that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid” state if it does not make peace soon, a US news website reports.

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Kerry made the controversial remarks at a closed-door meeting of the influential Trilateral Commission on Friday, The Daily Beast news website reported on Sunday.

The Daily Beast said a source at the gathering provided them with a recording of Kerry’s remarks.

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry said, according to The Daily Beast.

“Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even (Thursday), said they remain deeply committed to,” he reportedly said.

The online publication said that US, Western European, Russian, and Japanese senior officials and experts were at the event.

The term “apartheid” is a reference to South Africa’s 1948-1994 oppressive and racially segregated social system.

While both Kerry and President Barack Obama have refrained from using the term when speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former president Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) titled a 2006 book that he wrote on the subject “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

Kerry also insisted that the peace process was not dead.

“The reports of the demise of the peace process have consistently been misunderstood and misreported. And even we are now getting to the moment of obvious confrontation and hiatus, but I would far from declare it dead,” Kerry said, according to the news website.

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Gerrard’s cruel slip could end Liverpool’s title hopes

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Just before halftime at Anfield, Gerrard slipped while receiving a routine pass from Mamadou Sakho, allowing Chelsea striker Demba Ba to race in on goal to put the visitors one up.

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Willian doubled the advantage late on as Liverpool failed to break down Chelsea’s dogged defensive line, a defeat that ended their 11-match winning streak and took their Premier League title aspirations out of their hand.

Liverpool still lead with 80 points, but third-placed City sit three points behind with a match in hand and with a superior goal difference, meaning the 2011-12 champions can secure a second crown in three seasons if they win their last three matches.

Chelsea are second with 78 points.

Having won the Champions League, a UEFA Cup, two FA Cups and three League Cups, a league title is the one thing missing from Gerrard’s list of club honours, and it would be a cruel twist if his error went some way to denying him what many would see as a fitting reward for a career of graft and loyalty.

Manager Brendan Rodgers refused to criticise his captain, saying his form was the reason they were fighting for the title.

“Steven is a boy who has picked up this club so many times,” Rodgers told reporters.

“And it was just really unfortunate because he slipped at a crucial moment and it was right on half-time.

“He was doing everything he possibly could today and we hoped there would be one or two who would step up to the plate instead of him, but we couldn’t quite do that today.

“There’s certainly no blame because we are in the position we are in now because of him; he’s been instrumental for us this season.

“It’s just unfortunate that he’s slipped over. It could have happened to anyone. This is a guy that is so strong mentally.”

Liverpool have matches away to Crystal Palace and against Newcastle United at Anfield, and will hoping City, who beat Palace 2-0 on Sunday, will drop points to Everton, Aston Villa or West Ham.

Despite the denials of manager Jose Mourinho, Chelsea are also still in with a slim chance of winning, but Rodgers said it was important his side picked themselves up for their last two outings.

“If we can finish off the season and win these two games, we’ll finish above them and maybe above Manchester City. But there’s still a way to go,” the Northern Irishman said.

“City will now feel they can go on and win their games. We’ll just recover now; we’ll focus on the next game, and continue with that positive mentality that we’ve had throughout the season – because that’s the reason why we are where we are.”

(Reporting by Josh Reich; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Graceland exhibit marks 60th anniversary

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They look pretty insignificant.

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If you saw one blow across the footpath, you’d hardly take notice. But the two pieces of brown paper are payroll stubs, and when you realise their history, you can only smile.

They belonged to Elvis Presley when he was making deliveries – at a dollar an hour – around Memphis, Tennessee, for the Crown Electric Co.

The stubs are dated July 24 and July 30, 1954, around the time Presley reshaped music and American culture.

They are among the items that are part of a new display at Presley’s home, Graceland, in Memphis.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of his first official recording – That’s All Right on July 5, 1954 – and Graceland and Memphis are using the occasion to celebrate the king, rock ‘n’ roll and the city itself.

“(The stubs) show Elvis Presley is like the rest of us,” said Kevin Kern, Graceland’s director of communications. “He filled out a pay stub and got paid every week.”

If you’re impressed by the pay stubs, you’ll be all shook up by the 45 rpm record – Elvis’s personal copy – of That’s All Right, which is also in the show.

The exhibit includes 150 to 200 artefacts, with dates ranging from 1954 to today, covering his career and impact.

There’s also his script from 1957’s Jailhouse Rock, before it had a name. It’s referred to as Untitled Presley Story on the cover. Another film represented in the exhibit is 1964’s Viva Las Vegas, in which Elvis wore a red shirt.

“If you see the final scene, Elvis comes through this Western-style door, and he’s wearing this (shirt) with a black jacket over it, and he sings the title song,” Kern said.

The exhibit opened on February 24 and is part of a series of events in the city for 2014. For more information, go to graceland广西桑拿,.

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Brumbies pumped up for Crusaders trip

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The Brumbies are relishing the prospect of putting their Super Rugby title credentials to what they see as the ultimate test – ending a 14-year drought in Christchurch.

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Despite winning two titles of their own last decade, the second-placed ACT outfit haven’t beaten the seven-time champion Crusaders in New Zealand since 2000.

Saturday’s clash at AMI Stadium looms as a massive assignment with the Cantabrians surging back to form with three straight wins and All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw poised to return from injury.

But the Brumbies see it as an exciting gauge of their ability after toppling the Chiefs 41-23 in Friday’s grand final rematch.

“No matter what team the Crusaders field they are always going to be strong and considering they’re playing at home it’s just a whole other level,” in-form winger Robbie Coleman said in Canberra.

“We’re going out there with the attitude that it’s going to be the toughest test we have this season.”

The Brumbies haven’t forgotten being upset 30-23 in Canberra last season when the Crusaders’ All Black big guns stood tall and the home side’s emerging stars wilted.

“We’ve been fairly success over the last couple of years at creating challenges and rising to those challenges and this is another challenge for the team,” coach Stephen Larkham said.

“There’s elements of our game that has improved and particularly this year we feel our attack has come a long way.”

The Brumbies began their revival under Jake White in 2012 as a hard-working field position team that prided itself on its defence and breakdown work.

But Australian conference leaders have scored 27 tries in nine matches this season – the second most in the competition behind the Hurricanes (31).

They had hoped to have Henry Speight, Fotu Auelua and Leon Power back from injuries in time for the Christchurch trip but it looks like No.8 Auelua and lock Power will return to club rugby first, while Speight is another week away.

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Fifita has no complaints over Test axing

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Andrew Fifita admits his form for Cronulla didn’t warrant a place in the Australia side for Friday’s rugby league Test against New Zealand and he needs to get back to playing “happy football”.

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Fifita had a golden 2013 that saw him develop into the one of the best front-rowers in the NRL and earn selection for both NSW and the Kangaroos World Cup-winning side.

However, 2014 has been a nightmare for the 24-year-old with his big-money move to Canterbury collapsing and his on-field displays a shadow of what he produced last year.

“It is a tough decision and it’s up to the selectors at the end of the day, but it’s not their fault it’s mine,” Fifita said on the first day of camp for the NSW City side that will play Country in Dubbo next Sunday.

“I could have performed better but I am here now with City and happy to be here.”

Test coach Tim Sheens said on Sunday Fifita’s off-field distractions were a factor in his dip in form but the Sharks forward refused to use it as an excuse for his surprise axing.

However, with his future now sorted after signing a four-year deal to remain at Cronulla last week, less than two months after he tearfully told his teammates he was heading to the Bulldogs, he said he’s now in a good place.

“It’s been tough but I am happy now and back with the Sharks for another four years,” he said.

“Everyone is saying I have nothing to worry about now. It’s a massive relief for me and my family.

“I can go back to playing happy football. That is where I was last year when I had nothing to worry about.

“It’s been really draining but it’s all behind me now and I want to just get on with it.”

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Reynolds desperate for Origin chance

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Josh Reynolds had a small taste of State of Origin action last year and would love to experience the same sense of intense hatred from Queensland fans again.

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The 25-year-old Canterbury star gets the chance to put his hand up for selection for Laurie Daley’s NSW Origin team for game one on May 28 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium when he plays in Sunday’s City-Country clash in Dubbo.

He’s keenly aware the door is open for someone to claims the Blues five-eighth spot, with the selection further clouded by injuries which have cast doubt over incumbent James Maloney and previous choice Todd Carney.

“Jarrod Mullen will be in the same boat as me playing for Country so this is a game where both of us will be doing our best to make a case for Origin,” said Reynolds, who noted John Sutton must also be well in the frame.

Reynolds suffered the ignominy of sitting unused on the bench for the full 80 minutes in NSW’s win in the 2013 series opener in Sydney and played for just over 10 minutes in the game two defeat at Brisbane before being overlooked for the decider.

Reynolds said on Monday respect shown to him by Daley after game one made the decision not to use him easier to take.

“I obviously had a good seat, the best in the house,” he said.

“To be honest I went through a few emotions. I was happy the boys won but disappointed because I wasn’t needed.

“But you have to just get on with it. I didn’t want to kick stones and show everybody I was filthy or upset because I wasn’t.

“But Laurie was great with me and that is why I have so much respect for him.

“He told me I would play in Brisbane and he was true to his word and showed his true colours.”

Off-season shoulder surgery has helped Reynolds start the season pain-free for the first time in two years.

Now he’s hoping to channel the memories of the hostility from the Queensland crowd at Suncorp Stadium if he gets the opportunity to help turn around the Blues’ fortunes after eight straight series losses.

“It was very daunting, I am not going to lie, it was my first game and I just wanted to get out there,” he said.

“There are just thousands of Queenslanders having so much hatred for you. It’s a good experience. I’ll never forget it.

“The only abuse I have experienced like that was on Twitter after a loss.”

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Adjustments to Hong Kong property prices

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The International Monetary Fund said Monday Hong Kong property prices are set to see adjustments following years of boom.

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The city’s housing market has become one of the most expensive in the world – prices have more than doubled since 2008 – due to an influx of capital from the mainland and record low interest rates thanks to US quantitative easing.

Housing affordability has become a thorny issue for the Hong Kong government, with officials forced to introduce a series of measures to curb rising prices.

But an expected US tapering and an interest rate hike are set to bring down prices, the IMF said.

“Some adjustments are necessary,” Rhee Chang-Yong, IMF’s director of Asia and Pacific Department, told a press conference in Hong Kong on Monday as the international lender released its latest regional economic outlook.

“As interest rates go up because of tapering, it is one issue Hong Kong government needs to focus on,” he said.

“Borrowing costs will increase. It definitely will have an impact on real estate,” he said.

Since 2010, authorities have implemented several measures to curb rising property prices, including an unprecedented bid to restrict the number of non-local homebuyers with a 15 percent property tax on foreign investors.

Rhee said Hong Kong government can consider weakening some of the measures when prices start to fall in a more significant manner in order to achieve a “soft landing”.

The recommendations came as the IMF expected the city’s GDP to grow by 3.7 percent this year, before edging up to 3.8 percent next year.

In general, the IMF projects Asia’s growth to remain steady at 5.4 percent this year, compared to 5.2 percent last year.

It can further improve to 5.5 percent in the next year, driven by demand, the IMF said.

“External demand is set to pick up alongside the recovery in advanced economies, and domestic demand should remain solid across most of the region,” its outlook report published on its website said.

“Asia remains the most dynamic region despite tapering,” Rhee said in the press conference.

But a faster-than-thought slowdown in China and a sluggish Japan are two big risks to the region’s economic outlook.

China is expected to grow by 7.5 percent this year before slowing to 7.3 percent next year, IMF said. Japan could grow by 1.4 percent this year before lowering to 1.0 percent next year, it said.

“There is a possibility that Abenomics-related measures could prove less effective in boosting growth than envisaged unless strongly supported by structural reforms,” the lender said in the report.

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Hand hygiene ‘too complex’ for doctors

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Doctors at most public hospitals are failing to follow national hand hygiene guidelines, a new study shows.

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This is because the current five-step approach is too complex, says Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an infectious diseases expert at the University of New South Wales.

Her study focused on how regularly health workers wash their hands before seeing a patient, which is the first hand-hygiene opportunity in the five-step plan adopted in Australia in 2009.

The approach should be simplified to focus on washing hands before and after seeing each patient, says Prof McLaws, who has published a report in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Human instinct will take care of other protocols, such as washing after coming into contact with bodily fluids.

“We need to simplify it. Five behaviour changes were thrown at the doctors and nurses all at once.

“The nurses got it. They are exemplary compared with doctors. But they work in teams and support each other.”

Prof McLaws says the way compliance is audited also needs an overhaul. Auditors and other health workers should be empowered to intervene politely if they see a colleague breaching hygiene guidelines.

“We have neglected to help doctors change their behaviour.”

They found doctors consistently performed below the national 70 per cent compliance threshold.

This increases the risk of passing on germs from one patient to another, says Prof McLaws.

Nurses’ compliance was above the threshold.

But since there are more nurses than doctors this makes the national performance look better than it is, she says.

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Tate confirms Origin availability

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These days veteran Brent Tate reckoned he would be happy simply peeling oranges for the Australian rugby league team.

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But Tate hopes to make himself a bit more useful for Queensland this year after finally making himself available for State of Origin duty following a surprise Test 18th man call-up on Monday.

Tate had kept Queensland selectors guessing ahead of May 28’s Origin opener in Brisbane as he mulled over his representative future at the age of 32.

However, it seemed the decision was made for him when Australian selectors named Tate as 18th man after reserve Matt Gillett replaced Sam Thaiday (calf) for Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test.

“It was definitely not something that was on the radar,” Tate said of his Test call-up on the Cowboys website.

“I might not get a game as 18th man but I am still stoked, and you never know.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are playing or not. It’s still an honour.

“I’d be happy to peel oranges for them.”

Tate said he had been too busy trying to revitalise the NRL fortunes of North Queensland (12th; 3-5 record) to make his mind up about Origin.

But asked if the Test nod meant he was now available for Origin, Tate said: “Yes.

“I haven’t put too much thought into it to be honest.

“When you are not travelling as well as we have been there is a lot of pressure to get your own game right.

“This is a nice reward.

“And with Origin not too far away it would be nice to get picked in that as well.”

Tate – a veteran of 26 Tests and 21 Origins – was also 18th man for the 2013 World Cup final.

“It’s not unfamiliar territory unfortunately,” Tate laughed.

“But I will still prepare like I am going to play. If something comes along I will be ready.”

Tate has been a rock on reigning eight-time Origin champion Queensland’s wing the last two years after coming back from three knee reconstructions.

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