Monthly Archives: March 2019

AVO application against Labor’s Jamie Clements withdrawn

Labor powerbroker Jamie Clements, pictured with former premier Bob Carr last year. Photo: James AlcockNSW Labor powerbroker accused by stafferPolice decline to charge ALP bossJones resists ‘fishing expedition’
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An application for an apprehended violence order against Labor powerbroker Jamie Clements – based on allegations he tried to kiss a female staffer – has been dropped.

Stefanie Jones, a former staff member in the office of Campbelltown Labor MP Greg Warren, reported in early August that Mr Clements had tried to kiss her in a room at NSW Parliament House on June 23 last year.

Ms Jones arrived at Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday morning, accompanied by her barrister, former Liberal attorney-general Greg Smith, SC.

Police had sought the AVO on Ms Jones’ behalf, but told magistrate Robert Williams the application was now withdrawn.

Mr Clements, the state Labor Party’s general secretary, agreed to several undertakings on a no-admissions basis.

He has agreed not to contact Ms Jones, not to make derogatory comments about her, not to approach her, not to speak to her at Labor events, and only to enter Parliament House using a visitor’s pass.

Mr Clements was never charged with an offence, and disputed the allegations.

In a statement released after the short court appearance, Mr Clements said he welcomed the decision to drop the proceedings,” he said..

“I have co-operated fully through this process and am pleased it has reached a resolution which allows all involved to move forward.

“I have always contested the version of events which has been publicly reported and the agreement reached today is without admission on my part.

“Having had discussions with my family and colleagues, I have decided this is the best way to move forward and focus on the challenges of 2016.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Where the coolest of customers go to chill

IT has been a strange oldsummer so far. One day it’s beach weather, the next it’ssoup weather. But with sunshine on the radar and just over a week to gountil the kids return to school, it’s handy to know where to grab an icy coldtreat on ahot day.
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Adults: yes, there is always a watering hole with a sea breeze beckoning but that’s not always child-friendly. Ice-cream, frozen yoghurts and gelato are the way to go. And the young’uns will love you for it.

The new kid on the block is Monella. Seriously cool, the music is loud and the mouth-watering selection is a rainbow of ever-changing colours. Monella prides itself on beingexperimental when it comes to flavours. (149 Darby Street, Cooks Hill)

For something unique that willsatisfy your inner geek, there’sNic’s Nitro Wonderland at Stockland Jesmond. They use liquid nitrogen to create works ofart right in front of your eyes and, by side-stepping thelengthy churning process and avoiding the formation of large ice crystals, their ice-cream is wonderfully smooth.

The Hood Milk Bar is calling January “the summer of gelato”, and their range is impressive.They also offerice-cream, frozen yoghurt, smoothies and milkshakes –and a distinctly vintage vibe. (188 Union Street, The Junction)

A more traditional approach to gelato is favoured at G&G Gelato in the city centre.Made on site and offered alongside ice-cream, frozen yoghurt and Italian fare, the tiny cafe is frequentedby inner-city workers and tourists. (67 Hunter Street, Newcastle)

Yogurtland allows you to create your own masterpiece from the 15 kinds of fruit and 45 toppings available. (Shop 36, Stockland Supercentre, Glendale; and Shop 12, Marketown, Newcastle West)

Movenpick Ice Cream uses rich Swiss cream, fruit, creamy yoghurt and spices and flavours to create itsice-cream, gelato and frozen yoghurt. Also on Honeysuckle Drive in Newcastle isCold Rock, whereyou can mix anything fromGummi Bears to fresh fruit into your chosen icy cold base.

Blue Door Kiosk is the home of CocoWhip, a bio-fermented coconut soft serve, and also offers ice-cream,gelato and frozen yoghurt. (John Parade,Merewether).Estabar prides itself on its gelato (61 Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle), as does Espresso Gelato at Wests Cardiff.

Heavenly: Tilly Eyre at Monella Gelato Bar on Darby Street, one of many fun and refreshing venues in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil

Warners Bay is a must. There’s Kiwi Waffle n Cones opposite the lake and its picturesque bicycle track, and a couple of doors down is Dippin Dots. Kids love the small,frozen balls of cream that melt in your mouth, turning into traditional ice-cream.

And let’s not forget the ever reliableBaskin Robbins, Wendys and Boost Juice.

Chris, not if you were the last man on Earth

OUT OF LINE: Chris Gayle’s behaviour towards Mel McLaughlin does not qualify as flirting, says reader Maree Raftos.
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IT WOULDappear that Bill Dennis (“Masculinity or absurdity”,Letters11/1), fears that ‘masculinity’(whatever that is) is under attackgiven the reaction to the recent spate of crass behaviour and comments by politicians Jamie Briggs and Peter Dutton and the cricketer, Chris Gayle.

Mr Dennis writes that these episodes [and the reactions to them] “… highlight the feminisation permeating our society”.

I’m not really sure what he means by this but if he means that women have infiltrated the examples he gives (politics, sporting clubs, volunteer organisations, churches, the workplace, homes) and that they are no longer willing to quietly acquiesce to being treated badly by (some) men, I say, good and it’s about time.

Mr Dennis claims that “flirting is an interaction that should be enjoyed by almost everyone”.

The example he gives is of Chris Gayle saying to a female journalist going about her job, “I’ll interview you for a date later”. Sorry, but that doesn’t meet my definition of flirting.

He claims that the journalist and/or her editor could’ve cut that comment but chose not to.

Why would they edit the comment, Mr Dennis? To protect the cricketer?

This smacks of victim blaming along with previousletterwriters who’ve suggested that the reporter’s TV makeup and pony tail almost invited such crass behaviour by the cricketer.

This is 2016,not 1956.Such crass behaviour and outdated attitudes are no longer acceptable.

As for your comment that it is “the woman’s place [sic] to draw the line”, I wholeheartedly agree.My retort would be “Not if you were the last man on earth”.

Maree Raftos,NewcastleA DIFFERENT SPINTO Bill Dennis (Letters, 11/1) andall the men who say Mel McLaughlin was just being flirted with andthat the onus is on the woman to monitor andtemper the man’s behaviour –how differently would this Chris Gayle episode be (and that ofJamie Briggs)if all the parties involvedwere men.

A male politician commenting on the attractiveness of his colleague andfollowing that up with a smooch on the neck. Or a cricketer leering at a male reporter, inviting him out after the game androunding off with “don’t blush baby”.I believe the reaction by the public would be totally different if it was male hitting on male.

Whatever your sexuality, the fact remainsthat this is not acceptable in the workplace.

Suzanne Weller,IslingtonInto the crystal ballJUST a few predictions for 2016.

Nathan Brown is sacked after Knights fail to win the Auckland Nines.The Knights, however, win first prize in the ‘tackiest jersey’competition.

The Jets finally put the ball in the net; at the wrong end but a goal is a goal, eh?

Save Our Rail uses the last of its fighting funds to have a statue of Mike Baird made and a trail of breadcrumbs laidso the pigeons can’t miss it.

Scott Hillard makes a positive statement regarding Bill Shorten and calls for more welfare spending.

Barney Ward calls for Malcolm Turnbull to be Australian of the Year and suggests that Tony Abbott be knighted, or at least something involving a sword.

Finally, after 15 years of writing the most informative and eruditeletters the Newcastle Herald has ever received,Mike Sargent wins a pen.Fat chance. All the best for 2016 all youletterwriters.

Mike Sargent, Raymond TerraceRespect your eldersTHAT elderly people arestruggling to live on the pension is a sad indictment on government policy.

We should be recognizing thatthese are the people who made Australia what it is today. Hardworking men and women who earned, in many cases,minimum wages to support their families.These were people who knew what a budget was and how to live within their means. There was no such thing as superannuation.

At the end of their lives, they need our support for some dignity.I have travelled to many places in the world and I’ve seen the respect many cultures have for their elderly.

Ann Ellis,MerewetherCommunity concernINITIALLY, I had a casual view on the proposed movement of people with disabilities from institutions into home-like accommodation within the community.But this changed to a more focused view.

This is due to an incident prior to Christmas when I was brushed asideat my front door by a man who wandered through the house until he found a toilet in the bathroom. He was followed seconds later by a second man who apologised for the intrusion and mentioned he was a carer and the other man was a patient from the Stockton centre.

Eventually, the patient was coaxed from the house and I was left a little bewildered by the experience and a bathroom to clean after the patient had defecated on the toilet seat and a bath towel.

The situation could have been far more alarming if children werepresent.There has been no response from the Stockton centre which is a concern if these incidents are reported.The government must take steps to ensure the safety and privacy of residents is upheld in areas where patients will be relocated into their community housing.

Richard Jenkins, StocktonTIME FOR PENSIONER PARTYTHERE is little doubt that aged pensioners who rely upon the pension to survivelive below the poverty line andgenerally theydo not make much noise when more and more “benefits”are strippedaway.

In our Senate, we have a motoring enthusiastsenator representing, various independents and the Palmer crowd – and others like the shooters, sex and marijuana Parties waiting in the wings.

But who represents the hundreds of thousands of aged pensioners in this country?I wrote recently to the peak body representing the interests of aged pensioners and asked them what they were doing to put the case for a better deal for those who had contributed to this country for so long and the reply was that they ‘lobby’ the political parties. News flash –no-one is listening.We need pensioners to unite and work towards seats in the Senate. They will listen then.

Peter Smith,Thornton

30,000 petition to save Australian toddler

Fatoumata Binta Conteh, who has fled from relatives with her mother, Fatoumata Diarriou Bah. Photo: Supplied The letter from a Victorian girl addressed to the government. Photo: Supplied
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Australian toddler fleeing genital mutilationGovernment helps girl fleeing mutilationAustralians support toddler fleeing mutilation

​For a child it’s impossible to understand why anyone would harm Fatoumata Binta the way her family wants to.

When an eight-year-old Victorian girl saw a photograph of the toddler in the newspaper just before Christmas, she asked her mum who the “cute girl” in the picture was.

The child was told how the Australian-African three-year-old had run away from people trying to hurt her: how she has spent months hiding from them; and how, although she has the right to come to Australia, her mother does not.

She wasn’t told about female genital mutilation, the barbaric procedure the young girl’s family are trying to force on her. But she was still troubled by the story.

In a letter to the federal government, the child asks that Fatoumata Binta and her mother be brought to “our country”. She offers to share her toys and she promises to be nice.

“I have lots of toys, CDs and clothes that I can share, and I have a big bed and Fatoumata can sleep with me and her mum can sleep with my mum,” she writes.

“I promise that I will be so nice to them and my grandma is a relly [sic] nice cooker and they must be hungry and grandma can make food for them straight away.”

Pressure is mounting on the federal government to do more to help Fatoumata Binta, who remains in limbo in Africa with her mother, seven weeks after officials were told of their struggle.

Almost 30,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition calling on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to urgently bring the pair to Australia.

It follows Labor and the Green’s calls for immediate action and a statement from the Australian Human Rights Commission detailing the government’s responsibility under international treaties to do everything in its power to protect children at risk of female genital mutilation.

As revealed by The Age in November, the mother and daughter crossed the border from Guinea to Sierra Leone after escaping from relatives who tried to kidnap the toddler and force her to undergo the ancient ritual.

They were initially put up in safe house organised by the Australian government, but it is now unknown what action officials are taking to assist the young mother and her child. The government said it was “continuing to provide consular assistance” but refuses to give any details about the case.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop said DFAT was working with the family to “address a number of issues”.

Fatoumata Binta is an Australian citizen by descent on her father’s side but it is understood there are complications because her mother, who is also a victim and has few rights after fleeing from her family, does not have a visa.

Last week they left Freetown and travelled to another African nation, where they remain in hiding. The cost of their flights and accommodation were paid for with money raised through a crowd-funding campaign launched in Australia.

Paula Ferrari, co-founder of No FGM Australia, said the family was being kept in a “holding pattern” and questioned the reasons for the delay in providing assistance. “It’s pretty appalling, really,” she said. “It should not be taking this long to get this little Australian girl to safety and back to Australia.”

Ms Bah’s brother Ibrahima, who lives in China and has been trying to raise awareness about the case, said his sister had met with Australian officials but had not been told whether they would be given assistance or how much longer they would be forced to wait.

“We are just still waiting to hear from them [the government],” he said.

Advocates have been inundated with calls pledging support for the family, with offers of food, furniture, clothing and accommodation if they are brought to Australia.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Oil price slump: Let’s face it, nobody knows what the hell is going on

Hilarious forecasts from the past show that no-one can predict the oil market Photo: Jessica ShapiroRisks point to potential for oil falling to $US10, says StanChart​Oil stocks at the mercy of forecasts: UBS and CitiMichael Pascoe: The RBS ‘sell everything’ call grabs headlines, but the end of the world is not nigh
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Here are some forecasts from respected people for the direction of oil prices from the not too distant past:  In 2008, analysts from investment bank Goldman Sachs said crude oil prices could hit $US200 per barrel in the “not too distant future”. That never happened. (In fact, just a few months after this prediction, the global financial system imploded, sending the world economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression, and the oil price tumbling with that). This time last year, famed economist Jim O’Neill, the man who coined the term BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China) said ” all the indications are that [the oil price] will rebound this year” and oil prices “are likely to finish the year higher than where they began.” That didn’t happen either. The oil price fell more than 30 per cent last year. In March last year, not a single economist surveyed by the Wall Street Journal saw oil prices below $US50 per barrel in 2016. Wrong as well. 

Overnight, crude oil prices sank below $US30 per barrel, their lowest level since late 2003. And now people are saying they could fall further, to as low as $US10 per barrel, according to one bank (Standard Chartered).

Since very few people can say, hand on heart, they predicted oil’s current slump, predictions like this should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

Forecasting asset prices is difficult enough, and economists have a notoriously terrible track record at that. But the convoluted geopolitics and opaque dynamics of the oil market are on another level altogether. Let’s face it, nobody really knows what the hell is going on.

Few predicted the impact of the US shale oil revolution would be so significant; even fewer saw that OPEC, the cartel that dominates the oil market, would respond by actually increasing production. And that this would come into play just as the Chinese economy began to seriously wobble.

A lower oil price is in theory, great news for consumers. But before you get too excited, remember that the current weakness reflects weak global growth. And it doesn’t seem to have delivered as much of a boost to the biggest developed economies as in the past.

Interesting chart.Suggests the boost to G7 growth from lower oil prices is yet to come. Note the contrast v 2008-09 pic.twitter南京夜网/D9LZ7OOYAY— Shane Oliver (@ShaneOliverAMP) January 12, 2016

It’s a similar story here in Australia.

Lower crude oil prices typically translate into lower fuel prices for drivers. And that has been happening. They are also good news for airlines such as Qantas, but don’t necessarily translate into cheaper airline tickets.

But they are terrible for Australia’s energy sector (a big driver of investment spending in the country). Shares in beleaguered oil and gas company Santos, for example, are trading at their lowest level in two decades.

On balance, weaker oil prices “have a positive effect on overall growth of the Australian economy,” the RBA said last year. They could even leave room for the RBA to cut interest rates later this year (which at least one big bank thinks might happen). 

The problem is, given the hilariously bad forecasts of the past, nobody really knows how long the slump will last. And so the blindfold rollercoaster ride continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.